Hidden Healthcare: Inspired by resilient babies

Friday, February 07, 2020 babiesbirthingchildrennursingpaediatrics
Hidden Healthcare: Inspired by resilient babies Kelly McMahon has worked in the Special Care Nursery at Bendigo Health for 25 years. She says the variety of work and strength of the babies she cares for keeps her going.
Hidden Healthcare takes a look behind the scenes at some of the people powering regional Victoria's largest hospital.

Kelly McMahon continues to be amazed by the strength and resilience of the babies she cares for in the Special Care Nursery (SCN).

She recalls the feelings of uncertainty when sending 26 or 27-week old babies to Melbourne, unsure whether she’d see them again.

“It’s the really premature babies that you might look after, the challenge of dealing with everything the baby and those parents need, it’s those babies that stick in your mind,” she said.

“Often they come back to us once they’re stable and to see that through is fantastic. You just think how resilient the babies are. You feel so grateful for the family that they’ve managed to get through the tougher period and their baby is improving.”

With a history of nursing in the family, Kelly was always going to be a nurse.

She gravitated toward the SCN and has been there for 25 years, now in the position of Associate Nurse Unit manager.

“It’s a totally different area of nursing really, you’re dealing with a mother and baby and a family all at the same time at a very special time of their life and it can be really happy but really stressful for them,” she said.

“The variety of families you meet, caring for sick babies, helping them grow, get better and go home. Every day is different, that’s what I love most about my job. You never know what’s going to happen.”

Babies in the SCN can be suffering from a variety of things, including respiratory distress, cardiac issues or any problems related to premature birth.

Bendigo Health has capacity to care for pre-term babies from 32 weeks onwards.

As Kelly explains the move to the new hospital was a “huge learning curve” for the SCN which doubled in size.

“We used to have all the babies in the same room (at the old SCN), you could see them all from the office. But in the new facility you couldn’t eyeball them, it was really nerve-racking to start off with but now we’re a lot more relaxed about it,” she said.

A bigger unit meant taking more higher-acuity babies from the Loddon Mallee region, which provided its own clinical challenges.

But Kelly says medical and technological advancements like Bubble CPAP (a ventilation technique for newborns with respiratory issues) have enabled Bendigo Health to care for sicker babies for longer.

“They just amaze you every day with what they’re able to do and they just keep going,” she said.

More information on the SCN can be viewed here.