On March 30, Kimberly Hoke and her husband Doug headed into WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital’s Emergency Department.
Kimberly, 25 weeks pregnant, was experiencing some pain. She hoped for a quick explanation and some relief, but never expected the trip would result in the emergency delivery of her premature son.
“The way it all unfolded was an absolute shock,” she said. “I thought they’d give me something for the gas pain and we’d be back home in a few hours. Before I knew it, though, I was being sent away to have my baby.”
After arriving at WellSpan Waynesboro Hospital, the medical team that examined Kimberly diagnosed her with preeclampsia, a pregnancy complication characterized by high blood pressure, and one that can be fatal for the mother and baby. Her team made the decision to transfer Kimberly to WellSpan York Hospital, which is equipped with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The specialized unit’s care team was the best hope her premature son would have for survival.
Following an emergency caesarean section, Kimberly and Doug’s son, Dwight, was born 15 weeks early, weighing just one pound, six ounces, and with a chronic lung syndrome.
“My biggest concern at that point was whether or not they would be able to save his life,” Kimberly recalls. “Seeing how small he was and knowing how early he was delivered; my main concern was if he would make it through. And then if he did, I worried there might be complications that prohibited him from having a normal future.”
Dwight was immediately admitted to the hospital’s NICU where he received specialized care. Within the unit, specialized nurses have continued to care for Dwight, not only attending to his medical needs, but nurturing him and showing compassion for his entire family.
“We were so scared, but the second we got to WellSpan York Hospital, we knew everything would be okay,” said Doug. “You could tell everyone knew exactly what to do, and we were confident Dwight was in excellent care.”
Baby Dwight has continued to get stronger, now, five months since his birth he weighs 13 pounds. He continues to receive some oxygen support, but his lungs are improving. On September 8, after 23 long weeks, Brittany and Doug were finally able to bring Dwight home. While it’s a day his family has been longing for, they say it will be bittersweet to leave the care of Dwight’s nurses, who have been by their sides since his birth.
“It’s actually a little upsetting to be leaving, because he’s been with these nurses for a while and they’ve formed a very special bond,” said Doug. “They’re as much of a family to him as we are. And for Kimberly and myself, the NICU nurses at WellSpan have become our friends.”
The bond the Hoke family is experiencing is a benefit that WellSpan’s chief nursing officer, Kris O’Shea says often comes hand-in-hand with the natural challenges and stresses families endure when their newborn is in need of intensive care.
”Our NICU nurses are truly a family, and their top priority is to care for your family,” O’Shea explained. “Our team not only works to make sure the newborns in their care get the best treatment available, but they are also committed to building lifelong relationships with both the babies and their families. This team goes above and beyond to give every family who walks through our doors the attention, compassion and world-class care they deserve.”
The week of September 14-21 marks National Neonatal Nurses Week, an observance meant to bring awareness to the contributions the specialized caregivers offer. The Hokes say their experience has been a testament to the importance of compassionate care, and they hope in sharing their story, the spotlight the contributions of their care team.
“Before all of this happened, I had no idea how much these nurses do,” said Kimberly. “Seeing what they see on a daily basis, I’m sure it’s hard for them, and it’s amazing how they are able to do the jobs they do. The nurses at WellSpan York Hospital were with Dwight more than even we were in the beginning, and they’ve formed a great relationship with him. They are amazing, and we would not have wanted to go through this with anyone else.”
The 44-bed NICU at WellSpan York Hospital and 9-bed NICU at Wellspan Chambersburg Hospital offer some of the most comprehensive medical services for premature and critically ill newborns in the region, as well as 24/7 access for parents. They offer a full range of benefits for newborns and their families, and are equipped with AngelEye cameras, so you and your family can virtually monitor your baby from anywhere with an internet connection.
More information on WellSpan Health and Maternity Services.