When her water broke more than eight weeks in advance of her due date, Tiffany Armstrong was understandably worried. While Tiffany was confident she would be in good hands in the UnityPoint Health – St. Luke’s Birth Center, she was concerned her daughter would experience complications related to being born so prematurely.
Tiffany says labor was similar to the birth her two older children, but it was clear when Elaina was born that she would need advanced care.
“The worry all along was that her lungs were not fully developed,” Tiffany says of Elaina, who is now 5. “They took her to the NICU immediately so they could supplement her oxygen and help her with feeding. She actually progressed pretty quickly. She was there for about five days.”
Tiffany says throughout the NICU stay, the care team showed compassion for her entire family and helped them gain confidence in caring for Elaina’s special needs.
A New Experience
“Elaina is my third child, but in leaving the NICU, I felt like I had never had a child before,” Tiffany says referencing all she had to learn to care for her premature baby. In addition to Elaina, Tiffany has children who are 12 and 9. “I had to relearn everything because she was different than my first two. I can’t say enough about how the doctors and nurses spent time with me to help me understand what to look for and what to do if Elaina was having issues.”
Tiffany says it was fairly common for Elaina, even at a very young age, to get out of breath. When she was just 18 months, her oxygen levels dropped low enough to require hospitalization. Elaina was admitted to the Pediatrics Unit at St. Luke’s with an oxygen level in the low 50s. It was heart-wrenching to watch her daughter gasp for air.
“It was very scary for me watching them take vitals and begin to give her treatments,” Tiffany recalls. Elaina’s care team was led by Pediatrician Jeremy Granger, M.D. While a member of UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics now, at the time Dr. Granger was a Pediatric Hospitalist at St. Luke’s. “Had it not been for them, I’m not sure Elaina would have gotten the care she needed as quickly as she did. The entire crew was incredible. They were on top of everything.”
A Compassionate Connection
As she did after she was born, Elaina showed signs of improvement quickly. Tiffany says it was a combination of Dr. Granger’s technical excellence and unique ability to connect with young patients that helped Elaina turn the corner. It is something she has admired during multiple stays on the Pediatrics Unit over the last five years.
“One time Elaina was in and at the time was obsessed with the Trolls movie,” Tiffany recalls. “Dr. Granger sat with her and watched the movie and then went into detail about some of the characters with her. His bedside manner is absolutely incredible.”
Tiffany says Dr. Granger has also been an invaluable resource in helping her to learn more about how to help Elaina.
Specifically, consultation with Dr. Granger has helped Tiffany recognize warning signs that require intervention. Like any five-year-old, Elaina “plays hard” and Tiffany is now better equipped to recognize when her daughter is winded to the point that a treatment is needed.
“Dr. Granger gave me a number of preventive tips and taught me what signs I can look for so we can avoid things getting bad enough that Elaina needs to go to the hospital,” Tiffany says. “He basically gave me a one-on-one course. That level of care and compassion from a doctor is incredible. It gives me security as a mother.”