19:51 PM

Neurally Adjusted Ventilatory Assist Helps St. Vincent NICU Patients


Billings, MT - When a baby is born prematurely or needs a little help after birth, he or she can expect the best care right here at home. St. Vincent Healthcare was the first Level III NICU in Billings and is proud to provide high-quality care to our region’s tiniest patients. Sometimes that care requires a ventilator and St. Vincent is now providing neurally adjusted ventilatory assist (NAVA) to our youngest, most vulnerable patients.

NAVA ventilation synchronizes with the patient's natural breathing rhythm based on the brain. This means that the ventilator can detect the needs of the patient and adjust accordingly, causing less room for error while caring for patients. Not only does this help the patient breath, but it helps them sleep more comfortably while the ventilator is in place.

Baby Winston was recently a NICU patient at St. Vincent for 132 days and became the very first NICU patient to use NAVA. Born prematurely at just 23 weeks gestation and weighing a mere 1 pound, 7 ounces, Winston had many needs and was an ideal patient for NAVA. When Winston was put on the machine, he started at 65-percent oxygen, after five minutes the machine recognized that he only needed 35-percent oxygen and adjusted accordingly. Ultimately, Winston’s NICU stay was cut short up to three weeks with the help of NAVA.

Respiratory therapists explain that by using this machine, it means fewer issues with high or low pressure and volumes as the patient’s body can decide what it needs on its own. By using NAVA, the patient’s lungs are better protected, care teams have to use less sedation, the patient’s needs are better assessed and patients are overall more comfortable.

“We had the best nurses and doctors who told us what to expect but also what to look forward to,” said Winston’s father, Jaydell. “We are just so grateful for everyone at St. Vincent Healthcare that has been a part of their healing journey.”

September is NICU Awareness Month; a month dedicated to honoring families experiencing a stay in the neonatal intensive care unit and the health professionals who care for them. St. Vincent is thankful for our exceptional NICU team that not only provides expertise and excellent care to our patients, but also supports the entire family through their NICU journey.

About SCL Health

SCL Health is a faith-based, nonprofit healthcare organization dedicated to improving the health of the people and communities we serve. Founded by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth in 1864, our health network provides comprehensive, coordinated care through eight hospitals, more than 180 physician clinics, home health, hospice, mental health, and safety-net services in Colorado and the Montana Wyoming region.