Sometimes babies are born too early or very sick. That's why having a Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit in Cape Girardeau so very important, according to Dr. Karlyle Christian-Ritter, a neonatologist at St. Francis Medical Center.
Christian-Ritter addressed the Lions Club during its noon meeting Wednesday at the Holiday Inn. She told the members about how the unit works, showing slides of babies who have been born prematurely or with various illnesses.
Babies who require Level 3 care are those who were born prematurely, need long-term IVs, nutritional support, mechanical ventilation or pre- or post-surgical support.
Such units provide vital care, she said, considering that babies born at even 30 weeks have 95-percent survival rate with the proper care. Babies who are born at 23 weeks weigh about 1 pound, she said, adding their likelihood of survival drops to 30 to 40 percent.
Lately, the unit has become too small. It has seven beds, but the average daily need is eight. The hospital is looking to expand the unit.