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Donations upgrade essential testing equipment for the NICU

After 96 days with their daughter in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at Geisinger Janet Weis Children’s Hospital, Denielle and Mark Halerz of Altoona faced a bigger concern: taking their daughter, born at 24 weeks, home for the first time.

“I was so afraid to leave, yet so over being there,” Denielle said of her time in the NICU. “You get so reliant on asking for help or having someone there to answer questions. Normal mom questions, like, ‘Should she be breathing like that?’ ‘Is her color normal?’ Caley was our second child. I can’t imagine what that would be like for new moms.”

As parents learn how to care for their baby at home, the NICU staff performs final tests and makes preparations for discharge. That is why having the most up-to-date testing equipment is critical. Donations to Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger were recently used to purchase new sleep apnea testing equipment.

The Alice6 LDE diagnostic sleep system is used to test infants and children for sleep apnea or trouble with breathing. It can detect apnea (pauses in breathing), bradycardia (low heart rate), and low oxygen levels. The machine is also used to test infants in their car seat for a 2-hour period to make sure they do not have issues breathing.

“This equipment allows us to make sure babies do not have any breathing issues or low oxygen levels before they go home in their car seat,” said Roxanne Murdock, NICU nurse specialist. “The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends all babies born less than 37 weeks gestation be tested before going home in their car seat. This helps determine if they have low muscle tone that might prevent them from protecting their airway when they are in a car seat.”

The price tag for the equipment was nearly $33,000, which was covered in full by generous donations to Children’s Miracle Network at Geisinger.