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Outreach program helps critically ill infants

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFPN) -- Many nurses and physicians have limited experience in helping sick newborns. It can be a challenge for hospital staff to maintain skills in this area.

Nurses at Wilford Hall Medical Center attended a new course March 13 designed to train them to care for critically ill infants who must be transported to specialized care. Called STABLE, which stands for "sugar, temperature, artificial breathing, blood pressure, lab work, and emotional support," the program encompasses the process of stabilizing babies before moving them out.

"The STABLE program is the first neonatal outreach education program to focus exclusively on stabilizing sick newborns who need to be transported to another medical facility," said Capt. Randy Claxton, clinical nurse specialist in the Wilford Hall neonatal intensive care unit and the STABLE coordinator. The training, with its easy-to-remember acronym, provides care-givers with a resource to organize the many critical tasks necessary to stabilize a sick infant, Claxton said.

Twenty-one civilian and military nurses were among the participants in the first STABLE course held here at the Air Force's largest hospital. Many maternal-child nurses, physicians and respiratory therapists are already trained in the neonatal resuscitation program. The NRP focuses on delivery-room resuscitation. According to Claxton, STABLE training gives additional resources following that resuscitation so caregivers can provide ongoing care for a child who must be moved.

"The goal of this program is to train Air Force personnel who will take this experience to their respective units and be an integral part in insuring positive outcomes for critically ill infants," said Claxton.

The STABLE program involves an eight-hour course presented by an expert in neonatal nursing or medicine. Instructors from Methodist Children's Hospital in San Antonio trained the Wilford Hall nurses.

"Any health caregiver involved with transporting sick newborns would benefit from this training," said Claxton. "Wilford Hall already has an outstanding reputation for neonatal care. This training will help make that reputation even better."

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