Row from left, Leigh Ann Leonard, RN, Forrest General NICU manager; Jacquelyne Pittman, chairman for the 2021 American Heart Association Gala; Becky Hurston, CPR Kit campaign chairman; Eve Bauer, AHA regional director; back row, neonatologists, Randy Henderson, MD; Kerry Stewart, MD; and Clint White, MD, medical director for FGH Neonatology and 2021 AHA Gala honoree.
HATTIESBURG, Miss. (June 8, 2021) “Shining a spotlight on how lives can be saved if more Americans know CPR” is the focus of the American Heart Association as National CPR Week is celebrated June 1-7. As the observance kicked off Tuesday, Forrest General Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit received 20 infant CPR kits through a campaign led by Hattiesburg residents, Becky and Joey Hurston, and through donations by several Pine Belt couples.
Neonatal Intensive Care Units throughout the state are desperately in need of help, according to Eve Bauer, regional director for the AHA. “Due to constraints caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, hospitals are cancelling their CPR classes due to staffing, as well as the inability to gather in groups during this time,” said Bauer. “This has created an urgent need to provide new parents with the tools and education necessary to equip them to go home with an infant who has special needs.”
Being able to provide these life-saving kits for Forrest General is something the Hurston family knows about first hand. “We had a personal experience, and we had the need for a CPR kit,” Becky Hurston said.
Bringing a baby home from the hospital can be overwhelming, but it can be especially so for parents of critically ill infants. Infants requiring intensive care often have conditions that increase the risk of cardiorespiratory arrest after discharge. According to the National Institute of Health, preterm infants have more than twice as many cardiovascular malformations than infants born at term. A premature infant may also have difficulty breathing due to an underdeveloped respiratory system that prevents the lungs from fully expanding and contracting.
Clint White, MD, medical director for Forrest General’s Neonatology Unit, said the Infant CPR kits are a wonderful tool for Hattiesburg families to be able to learn CPR. “They can then give the kit to someone else for them to learn,” he said. So, from one kit, seven or eight families may be able to learn CPR, which then may save the life of that many infants in Hattiesburg and the surrounding communities.”
The need for parents of high-risk babies to be trained in the lifesaving skill of CPR is more pressing than ever. Under half (49 percent) of infants and children that had an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest received CPR. The likelihood of cardiac arrest is much higher in infants who needed intensive care at birth. Premature infants miss the critical time period when the terminal respiratory units of the lungs begin.
“The gift of these Pine Belt residents will help spread awareness of heart disease throughout the community, empower new parents with the knowledge to respond in a cardiac emergency and improve the chain of survival in the surrounding area,” said Millie Swan, Forrest Health vice president.
The CPR Anytime program is a video-based, self-directed learning tool that can teach parents, family members and other caregivers the core skills of infant CPR and choking relief.
Each take-home kit includes:
- An easy-to-follow CPR skills practice video on DVD or online streaming option (English and Spanish) instructions
- A personal CPR manikin to practice correct technique
- Skills reference card to refresh and review skills at any time.
- The Infant CPR Anytime training kit was developed by the AHA in coordination with the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Donor support has allowed this program to be launched across the country where many hospitals have seen tremendous success and infant lives saved. Thank you to the following Pine Belt couples for their generous donation:
- Becky and Joey Hurston
- Courtney and Scott Tomlinson
- Joan and John Holland
- Sharon and David Richardson
- Kristen and Charles Richardson
- Sally and Russell Roberts
- Michelle and Ray Humphreys
- Amy and Mark Molpus
- Aaryanna and Richard Preusch
- Julie and Cliff Norman