Methodist Women's Hospital NICU Nurse Honored for Care of 'Big, Lazy Baby'
Published: Oct. 27, 2020
On July 8, Elise Korte Quance gave birth to what the doctor called, a “big, lazy baby” at Methodist Women’s Hospital. Son Ryker – born 11 days before his due date – weighed in at 10 pounds, 11 ounces.
“When he came out so big, the nurse joked, ‘Here’s your toddler,’” Elise said.
Ryker wouldn’t need any of the newborn clothes Elise had bought for him. But for now, there was a more pressing issue. A few hours after Ryker was born, his blood sugar was dangerously low. The brain needs glucose to function, and prolonged low blood sugar can cause seizures and brain injury. Mother and baby were moved to the Methodist Women’s Hospital integrated Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), where they would receive care together.
“I was stressed,” Elise said. “He has to go to the NICU? He’s double the size of a ‘normal’ baby.”
After the smooth delivery of her first child three years earlier, Elise was shocked that her baby needed care in a unit that conjures images of the tiniest newborns. The following days were challenging. Elise was not only recovering from a caesarean section but also dealing with the stress of her milk coming in slowly and needing donor milk to supplement the little she could provide. Between his low blood sugar and his weight, Ryker needed to eat – a lot – but he struggled to keep up and was given a feeding tube.
“That terrified me as a mother – just seeing your newborn baby with a feeding tube,” Elise said.
She was exhausted.
“It was a lot,” she said. “My son wasn’t sleeping, so I wasn’t sleeping because every three hours, they pricked his foot to check his blood sugar levels. Then he would scream in pain. I was praying that he would eat enough so that his sugar levels would go up.”
Elise prayed that God would help them.
“So he sent Katie,” she said.
Small adjustments, huge changes
By the time NICU nurse Katie McGuire, BSN, RN, started her overnight shift on July 10, Ryker’s blood sugar wasn’t the only problem. His oxygen level was dropping, too. She asked for permission before entering Elise’s room and then asked for permission to inspect Ryker’s bassinet.
“She just had an extra level of politeness and an extra level of love that really showed when she came into the room the very first time and every time after that,” Elise said.
McGuire quickly realized that Ryker’s head was on a downward tilt. After making adjustments, his oxygen level went back to normal. Then McGuire noticed that Elise was using a hospital-provided preemie bottle to feed Ryker. But Ryker was an extra-large baby – he was throating the bottle and not latching to the nipple. McGuire asked if they had any regular bottles at home. Elise’s husband, Ryan, brought them right away.
“Just like that, after switching to a regular-sized bottle and nipple, he was eating more,” Elise said. “Within the first two hours, Katie identified these two major things that were pretty simple. And she was just so sweet. She was kind and thoughtful in everything she did and how she took care of us.”
Elise was so impressed by McGuire that she requested her for the next night. But with Ryker eating well, his blood sugar stabilized, and the family was able to go home before the start of McGuire’s shift. Elise didn’t get to say goodbye, but she still found a way to thank her “angel.”
For her thoughtful and compassionate care, Elise nominated McGuire for The DAISY Award, a national award that recognizes extraordinary nurses for their skill and compassion. In her nomination, Elise wrote:
“When you’re in the NICU, things are extra stressful, and it was so comforting to know that Katie was taking extra care to make sure our baby was getting better. We are so thankful for her thoughtfulness, care and compassion. She’s the reason we were able to get out of the hospital sooner rather than later. She deserves The DAISY Award for her good heart and compassionate soul.”
A “full circle” career and special honor
McGuire was surprised with The DAISY Award last month in the presence of her colleagues, all who had just finished their long overnight shifts in the NICU. As soon as a coworker began reading the nomination aloud, McGuire knew who the family must be.
“That was definitely the biggest baby I’ve taken care of,” McGuire said. “They were such a sweet, very involved family.”
McGuire, born premature at 32 weeks, has always wanted to be a NICU nurse.
“It’s come full circle,” she said. “It’s interesting to see the size of a 32-weeker and then think, ‘Oh my gosh. I was that size.’ I love it.”
Being recognized for nursing means more to McGuire than Elise may have realized when she nominated her. McGuire’s best friend – also a nurse – passed in 2017.
“I’m sad that I can’t share this with her, but she definitely has had an influence on me,” McGuire said.
McGuire shows The Meaning of Care to all her patients by treating them as she would want her own family treated.
“If I can take a little stress off the parents, then I’ve done my job,” she said. “If I can feed the baby overnight while Mom sleeps, I’ve done my job. Because the baby is not my only my patient. So is the family.”
McGuire has a message for her patients, the Quance family: “I would just like to thank them, to tell them how honored I am. It was a pleasure meeting them and taking care of their baby.”
For Elise, McGuire will always be the answer to her prayer.
“She’s got such a great heart,” Elise said. “She goes above and beyond the normal call of duty. In those first two hours, she identified key facts that helped Ryker improve significantly within 24 hours. She’s our angel.”