'Baby Hal' visits southern Delaware

Responsive medical mannequin simulates neonatal distress for hospital training.
April 21, 2014
Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Rachel Marie Baldwin runs a training exercise with mechanical 'baby Hal' at Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital. BY MOLLY MACMILLAN

Baby Hal is a mechanical newborn simulator doll that has visited hospitals all over the Delmarva Peninsula, most recently to Bayhealth Milford Memorial Hospital for neonatal team training.

As part of a neonatal outreach program, Christiana Care Health System sends the simulator and a team of nurse practitioners and other medical professionals to visit hospitals where they simulate cardio-pulmonary and other resuscitation scenarios.

As the only hospital with a Level III neonatal intensive care unit in Delaware, Christiana Care Health System offers the highest level of care for sick newborns, said Dr. Wendy Sturtz, neonatologist and director of medical outreach.

"We are really trying to bring the skills that we do at the level III NICU to the smaller referring hospitals," Sturtz said. "This technology is really novel and amazing."

Baby Hal is a life-sized newborn simulator doll that simulates crying, respiratory difficulties, seizures and cardiac compromise in newborns. Working with state-of-the-art simulators allows neonatal teams to become comfortable using the skills they learn in a classroom so they are better able to perform them in real-life situations, Sturtz said.

During the outreach at Milford, Christina Care Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Rachel Marie Baldwin told the team neonatal distress is not rare. "About 10 percent of all babies who deliver need some kind of skilled resuscitation," Baldwin said.

Medical teams at smaller, referring hospitals such as Beebe Healthcare or Milford are taught to recognize when a baby needs help so the infant can be stabilized for transport to Christiana, where they can offer the highest level of care, Baldwin said.

"If babies are born sick and need help," she said, "most smaller hospitals don't have the capabilities to take care of them."

With practice on the simulator, neonatal teams at these hospitals gain practice and learn how to best respond and prepare unwell infants for the 70-mile transport to Christiana.

Registered Nurse Holly Walton said she thought the experience with Baby Hal would better prepare the labor and delivery team she works with in Milford as well.

"I definitely think it's helpful," Walton said. "This is the important stuff you need to be comfortable with.

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