Neonatal nurse practitioner joins NICU care team

Babies requiring specialized care at Red Deer Hospital have extra set of hands caring for them

Babies requiring specialized care at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre (RDRHC) have an extra set of qualified hands caring for them with the addition of the facility’s first neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP).

Sandra Walker-Kendall brings more than 30 years of nursing experience in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), including eight years as an NNP.

“Nurse practitioners are such an important part of the healthcare team,” says Alberta Minister of Health Sarah Hoffman. “I want to thank Sandra for being Red Deer’s first neonatal nurse practitioner. Her valuable skills will help provide newborns and their families with the great intensive care.”

Walker-Kendall began working full time in the NICU earlier this month.

“I am incredibly honoured to be part of the team bringing this enhanced level of care to newborns at the hospital,” says Walker-Kendall. “Nurse practitioners are growing in practice across the province and I am proud to bring my skills as an NNP to the Central Zone of Alberta Health Services.”

NNPs are advanced practice nurses specialized in newborn/neonatal care, and work in collaboration with neonatologists and pediatricians in NICUs. NNPs have the ability to assess, diagnose, prescribe medications, order diagnostic tests and interpret results of those tests for families of neonatal patients.

“Having the NNP as part of the healthcare team provides an additional team member to contribute to the care of newborns,” says Sandi Sebastian, Director, Women’s and Children’s Health Services at RDRHC. “This new care model will provide additional consistency and continuity of care for families, as well as help us better meet the needs of newborns cared for at our hospital.”

The addition to the NICU healthcare team comes after more than a year of planning with input from various disciplines in the department.

“With the addition of a neonatal nurse practitioner, we are able to enhance and strengthen the clinical care available to the NICU population in central Alberta,” says Dr. Mark Mahood, Chief of Pediatrics at RDRHC.

Alberta Health Services has more than 370 nurse practitioners caring for patients across the province in community clinics, hospitals, community care and long-term care settings.

-Submitted by Alberta Health Services

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