Brandon and Jaclyn Storm’s pregnancy was deemed high risk early on, and the babies, Carly Grace and Anna Margaret, were expected to be premature. Jaclyn needed to stay near a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) or similar critical care facility. Otherwise, she and her babies could have died. When the twin girls were born prematurely on Sept. 10, 2005, the London couple’s joy was mixed with fear and exhaustion. They spent several months in Lexington so their babies could receive lifesaving care at a NICU, a 90-minute trip from their home.
Almost 14 years later, Brandon cries recalling the trauma his family endured. Carly was born weighing 1 pound, 10 ounces, and Anna was 3 pounds, 1 ounce. Brandon drove to Lexington every night after working eight to 10 hour days in London. He often had a friend or family member ride with him because it became too exhausting to drive safely.
The financial burden of finding a place to stay in Lexington was challenging, and eventually the family was placed in a home with a host. He said Carly would not have survived without the NICU, where she spent two months. The twins both had additional complications and needed specialized care.
“It was very touch and go for a while,” he said. “And the sad thing is, right next to us, a baby passed away. That makes it even more real.”
Establishing NICU Care in London
Staying close to home would have saved the family overwhelming stress and a lot of money. That’s why the Saint Joseph London Foundation is focused on fundraising for a Level II NICU at Saint Joseph London’s Birthing Center to help area families. It will be one of only two hospitals in southeastern Kentucky with both a birthing center and a NICU. This will allow the hospital to keep about 80% of the premature or at-risk babies in London for treatment.
Stories like the Storms’ are near to the hearts of the physicians and staff at Saint Joseph London, including President John C. Yanes, FACHE, CPPS. The hospital is the leading obstetrical provider in the area and delivers approximately 1,200 babies every year.
“Establishing a NICU at Saint Joseph London is an overarching priority as we remain unwavering in our commitment to improve timely access to vital medical care to the residents we serve in a six-county service area,” Yanes said. “The NICU will build on and expand existing inpatient services for some of the most medically vulnerable patients.”
The Birthing Center opened in 2010, and in 2017 the hospital delivered 1,203 babies. Of those, 86 infants required treatment in a NICU, and 69 of them could have been cared for in London if the NICU was available. The Saint Joseph London NICU will cost approximately $1.4 million.
A version of this article originally appeared in the Spring 2020 edition of Spirit of Health. For more stories like this one, subscribe to Spirit of Health magazine today.