Families in our neonatal intensive care unit experience some of the most emotionally challenging days of their lives. Our NICU nurses’ skills go far beyond the clinical knowledge and best practices that enable them to provide such great care every day. They delicately balance the whisper of hope they provide with managing expectations of a family who is facing a terminal diagnosis.
Perhaps nobody understands this better than Stephanie Chambers, a NICU staff nurse. Stephanie’s twins were born prematurely at the Betty H. Cameron Women’s & Children’s Hospital. Everything she had learned about mental anguish as a nurse, she felt as a mother. Suddenly, she was the mother looking expectantly at the nurse for the latest update on her precious babies.
Stephanie now has two joyful toddlers, and she uses her insight as a NICU mother to provide a fresh perspective to help solve problems.
Stephanie leads the NICU Unit Based Practice Council with a drive and desire to make changes that positively impact the care of our patients. Stephanie used her personal story to develop and implement NICU bedside handover. Through this clinical ladder project, patient safety was improved and family engagement and satisfaction was enhanced.
Families consistently praise Stephanie during manager rounding for involving them in every aspect of their care and providing clear communication so they feel empowered as an advocate for their baby.
Stephanie serves as a mentor, supporting clinical ladder projects of her peers. She serves as a member of the Micropreemie Care Collaborative Team, STAR Delivery Team and serves as a mentor for UNCW Capstone Students.
As a NICU mother, Stephanie understands the unique emotional needs of the families she cares for. Recently, a NICU team member identified concerns with discharging bereaved and NICU mothers at the same discharge exit as well-newborns. Stephanie took ownership of this project, pulled a team together and helped develop a compassionate plan. Effective May 1st, all NICU and bereaved mothers are discharged through the NICU family garden. In the near future, a memorial lantern will be in place to honor the loss experienced by our families.
Each family is important to Stephanie, and she will do everything she can to make the best of an irreversible situation.
Recently, a NICU baby was diagnosed with Trisomy 18, a terminal condition. The care of this patient was emotionally difficult for the family and staff. In order to provide this family with the most consistent and memorable experience Stephanie agreed to serve as a Care Team Member. She included the siblings in the care of the newborn, organized pictures of the entire family, and provided emotional support for the family. She couldn’t save the baby, so she did everything possible to make the experience special for the family in the limited time they had with their baby.
When WECT asked to shadow NICU nurses for a special report on the emotional rigors of the job, Stephanie was chosen, and that touching report aired last week. The report captures the emotional exhaustion that these nurses endure every week, and it illustrates why nurses like Stephanie are perfect for the job.
You need only to watch that clip to see why Stephanie Chambers, NICU RN, is the July Employee of Excellence at New Hanover Regional Medical Center!