Helping newborns never gets old – a public health nurse’s story


Every parent remembers holding their newborn baby for the first time.

Often at that point, the worry sets in. What if something goes wrong?

Luckily, Eastern Health has nurses like Pam Ryan, a nurse in the Public Health program.

For Pam, the main focus of her work is children and their families.

After nine years with the Public Health program, Pam knows that there’s a broad range of tasks and programs under the public health umbrella.

Pam Ryan, RN BN CCHN(C), public health nurse

Pam Ryan, RN BN CCHN(C), public health nurse

So, what are some of Pam’s responsibilities?

Even though Pam focuses on children and their families, she has a “jack of all trades” attitude when it comes to her work.

As she puts it: “I can be dealing with babies in the postnatal visits one day and then doing adult immunizations the next!”

Some of her responsibilities include:

However, Pam really enjoys helping newborns and their families on the postnatal visits.

“It never gets old, holding the newborn for the first time, and seeing the joy in the parents’ faces,” Pam said. “I, as a parent, remember that feeling.”

After so many years of helping parents with their little children, Pam hasn’t had to do many emergency calls, but every now and then, one comes along.

IMG_Public health nursebaby_470

Pam recalls a time when she received a typical referral on a newborn baby who had been discharged from the hospital.

As part of her responsibilities, Pam called to schedule the first home visit.

During the phone call with mom, Pam found out that she was having trouble with breastfeeding because the baby wasn’t settling well during or after nursing. The baby also wasn’t resting well, due to frequent feedings and mom was worried that her baby wasn’t getting enough milk.

The baby had just fallen asleep but mom said that the baby hadn’t been feeding much since the day before and the baby’s colour seemed off.

“This comment raised alarm bells for me,” Pam said. “I needed to find out more information to get the whole picture.”

After further conversation, mom said that the baby’s cry seemed weak.

Pam was concerned about all of these symptoms and encouraged mom to bring the baby to the hospital for a full assessment. She said: “I remained factual but calm.”

“Mom didn’t want to wake the baby because she had just gone down to sleep,” Pam said. “But after reassuring the family they were doing all the right things with their new baby, they agreed to head to the hospital.”

After about a week, Pam received a call from the family. The baby had a serious infection, but was now doing well at home.

The family told Pam that they were so relieved that she had urged them to bring the baby in for an assessment.

“They felt that had they decided not to go to the hospital and let the baby sleep, the outcome could have been much worse,” Pam said.

Pam attributes the ability to notice the symptoms to her training and experience.

After graduating from the Centre for Nursing Studies, Pam went straight into the nursing field.

Now, after 11 years and a lot of experience, she was able to put her skills to work and help a newborn and their family.

Pam said: “My training and experience as a registered nurse is the most important factor in getting the care for mothers and newborn babies in a timely manner.” ■

This story was written by Brandi Roberts, a public relations co-operative education student with Eastern Health’s Corporate Communications Department. 

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