07:14 PM

Blythedale Helps Zoey, and her Mom, Breathe a Little Easier

Zoey has a smile that lights up a room. The exuberant thirteen-month old was born via emergency caesarean section after she and her mother, Melanie, were involved in a car accident. Delivered at just 25-weeks gestation, Zoey - considered a "micro-preemie" - weighed a mere 1 lb., 7 oz. birth.

In addition to the more common complications of prematurity, Zoey was subsequently diagnosed with bronchopulmonary dysplasia - a condition that can develop in premature infants with respiratory distress, who need help to breathe for an extended period of time. After a lengthy NICU admission, Melanie was finally able to bring her bubbly daughter home, but in December her pulmonologist noted her decreasing oxygen levels and recommended inpatient care.

Zoey was admitted to Blythedale three weeks ago for medical management of her respiratory condition, with a goal of weaning her from a nasal cannula (a device which delivers oxygen when a low or medium concentration is required, and the patient is in a stable state). In addition to oversight by pulmonologists and respiratory therapists, Child Life and therapeutic recreation specialists also work with the toddler to help hone her motor skills, stand and walk. Melanie - who is by Zoey's side 24/7 - is an active and engaged participant in parent education programs, learning how to care for her medically fragile daughter and preparing for the day when they can return home together.

Melanie says that coming to Blythedale isn't like going to other hospitals. "Everyone at Blythedale goes out of their way to make you feel like family, from the security guards to the doctors," she said. "You don't feel like you are just a patient. This place supports me and is teaching me what I need to do when we go home."