Sentara Opens “Loving Arms” to Smallest Patients

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Provided by Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center

Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center has announced the introduction of the Loving Arms program. Loving Arms brings volunteers and addicted babies together to help the healing process. The program was formed in response to the increasing number of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS) babies. NAS babies are often inconsolable and require extra time in loving arms.

“This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years,” explains organizer Joanne McCoubrey, RNC, NICU Staff Nurse. “Sentara Obici began a program in response to the increased number of Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome babies, which was quite successful. Nationwide, and here in the Commonwealth, NAS is a growing concern.”

NAS is a group of conditions caused when a baby withdraws from certain drugs he’s exposed to in the womb before birth. While signs and symptoms vary from baby to baby, they can include low birthweight, body shakes, seizures, fussiness and poor feeding, just to name a few. Studies have shown that swaddling a baby, constant contact and dim, quiet surroundings are just some ways to help NAS babies through withdrawals.

“Studies have shown that nurseries that have similar programs in place see a decrease in their treatment course and the amount of time babies spend in the NICU,” says McCoubrey.

That’s why Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center is recruiting volunteers to lend a hand. After undergoing a thorough screening, five volunteers were in the first training class to learn how to sooth and comfort the babies in the NICU.

“Our volunteers make such a difference to our patients, families and guests day in and day out. It’s wonderful they’ll now be able to provide a little extra TLC to help these babies achieve the best outcomes,” says Beverly Brevard, Team Coordinator of Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center’s Volunteer Services.

The new program is looking for volunteers who can come in on an “as needed basis” for three-hour blocks. If you’re interested in volunteering or learning more about the program, contact Brevard at 703-523-1345.

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