Becoming parents can be a stressful and anxious time. For new parents Stephanie Kuehn and Brad Gardner, this was especially true on Nov. 10, 2018, the day their son, Murphy, was born.
Murphy, who had extensive prenatal care, was born with an undetected congenital heart condition called total anomalous pulmonary venous return, or TAPVR. But the Good Samaritan Society home health services provided critical care to ensure Murphy’s health condition didn’t miss a beat.
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With TAPVR, oxygen-rich blood from the lungs goes to the right side of the heart instead of the left atrium. There, it mixes with blood that’s poor in oxygen, which means the baby’s body fails to get enough oxygen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Heart procedures for newborn
Shortly after he was born, Murphy was flown from Sanford Birth Center in Bismarck, North Dakota, to the University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, where he underwent what would become a three-part procedure.
The first procedure was a sutureless repair to correct the flow, which was completed the day after he was born. This required his chest to remain open while the swelling went down and required a bridge to be placed to allow for this to happen. The second procedure was the bridge removal, which took place two days after the first surgery. Three days after the initial repair, the third part of the surgery was the chest closure.
One month later, Murphy had a gastrostomy tube (G-tube) inserted to help him get the nutrition he needed.
Murphy was finally discharged from the hospital Dec. 17 and admitted to Good Samaritan Society-Home Care in Bismarck on Dec. 28. That’s when home health RN case manager LaToya Buzalsky met Murphy and his parents.
“At first, Murphy was a frail, 7-pound baby and was unable to breastfeed,” Buzalsky said. “He was, however, a happy baby and was cooing the first day we met. We became buddies right away.”
Help for baby, family
During the next few months, Buzalsky helped the family adjust to caring for Murphy. She checked to make sure the incision from surgery was healing properly and provided care with tube feedings, as well as many other tasks.
Buzalsky also provided emotional support for the family. With Gardner having to return to work after two weeks of being home, this was especially crucial for Kuehn.
“LaToya was amazing. She was kind, knowledgeable and great with Murphy. While she fulfilled the role of a nurse to Murphy, she also extended her kindness to us. She helped me through tough days as well. When working with a sick baby, there are some setbacks. During that time, LaToya picked me up, dusted me off and sent me back into the game,” Kuehn said.
With each passing day, Murphy began to look healthier and grow stronger. He eventually could graduate from bottle-feeding to breastfeeding. He started gaining weight and even began developing baby rolls. On Feb. 22, 2019, Murphy was discharged from home care.
“He was my little rock star,” Buzalsky said. “It was hard knowing I wouldn’t visit Murphy every week, but seeing him grow stronger each day was amazing.”
The family kept in touch with Buzalsky after Murphy was discharged, and Kuehn said she went from feeling like she could never leave the home to bringing Murphy to her full-time job. Murphy continues to make gains and grow stronger, smiling throughout the day. The focus now is on reintroducing the bottle and then removing the G-tube, hopefully within the coming months.
“We are extremely happy with the care and support LaToya provided. It was just phenomenal,” Kuehn said.
Home health locations
The Good Samaritan Society has 38 home health services locations in the United States. Sanford Health also offers home health services in and around Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Fargo and Bismarck, North Dakota; and Bemidji, Minnesota.
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