Our nurses on Butterfly – the Newborn Intensive Care Unit (NICU) – provide the best care for the sickest babies and infants from Victoria, Australia and overseas.
Every year, up to 650 babies are admitted to Butterfly with a wide range of complex medical and surgical problems. Some require the support of a ventilator for their breathing and many require specialised surgical procedures.
The management of our NICU babies is overseen by a team of neonatologists, neonatal nurses and allied health specialists.
We asked two of our neonatal nurses – Nicole and Lexi to tell us about what their roles, and what they’d be doing if they weren’t looking after our smallest patients.
How is Butterfly different to other wards in the hospital?
Nicole: Butterfly is a specialised ward caring for the RCH’s youngest patients. Butterfly ward offers a family-centered care approach. Not only does it take into account the patients needs, but also the family’s needs too. We offer a 1:1 and 1:2 nurse to patient ratio to achieve this whilst offering many services and input from a variety of teams.
Can you tell us about the type of patients you care for?
Nicole: Butterfly cares for a variety of patients including premature babies, patients suffering from congential illnesses, birth abnormalities, and surgical patients to name a few, as well as offering palliative care.
Lexi: We care for newborn babies who require intensive care post birth or pre/post surgery.
What attracted you to working in NICU?
Nicole: I love the idea of advocating for a patient that cannot necessarily say what is wrong and also for a family that is often put into an extremely vulnerable position. It’s a very rewarding job and one that challenges me and teaches me on a daily basis. I love the Butterfly ward; it has been an incredible experience.
Lexi: I originally trained in adult ICU, but wanted a change and challenge, so I came to RCH to work with babies. Butterfly unit has been so supportive of my adult to baby journey.
Why did you decide to get into nursing?
Nicole: I love the idea of helping people and providing healthcare to those in need. Its an incredible feeling knowing you have potentially changed a person’s life or helped in making a health outcome better.
Lexi: I’ve always wanted to be a nurse, ever since I was a kid!
What’s the most rewarding thing about working on Butterfly?
Nicole: The days where a baby holds your finger a little bit tighter during procedures or seeks comfort, when a parent hugs you and says how much they appreciate you, when a patient starts to get better and when the parents and families get to take their baby home; these are the moments that I cherish and are moments that are truly rewarding.
Lexi: I love being there for the ‘first’ moments, first cuddles, first feeds etc. And of course when they go home happy and healthy to be with family!
Is there a particular patient you’ve cared for in NICU who stands out for you?
Nicole: There are many patients that stand out to me and some who I will never forget. The long-term patients often become part of the NICU family, and whilst it is sometimes sad when we have to say goodbye, it’s very rewarding to know we’ve helped in one way or another. I still have parents come and visit me on the ward, months after their baby has been discharged. This is extremely humbling and reminds me of why I love my job so much. To have a family remember your name months after their stay is a feeling words cant describe; it’s an honour.
Lexi: A particular little one with the biggest mop of black hair stole my heart, she gave me lots of cuddles and drooled all over me!
How do you relax after a long shift?
Nicole: I like to bake and to go for walks. I also love to do flower arrangements and catch up with friends and family.
Lexi: After a stressful busy day I spend time with my little dog, rugged up in a fluffy dressing gown watching reality TV (I’m an addict!).
If you weren’t a nurse, what would you be doing instead!
Nicole: I loved the idea of being a paramedic or a florist; very different professions but very rewarding in different aspects.
Lexi: I couldn’t imagine doing anything else!
If you would like to support great care at the RCH, see www.rchfoundation.org.au
If you’d like to know how about what to expect during your stay on Butterfly Ward, you can download the My RCH app here.