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Your Infant and the ER: What Every Mom Needs to Know


Not all emergency rooms are properly prepared to deal with infant emergencies. Too many mothers have learned this the hard way. Get the facts and learn what you can do to support a worthy cause to improve pediatric emergency care in hospitals.  


Your Infant and the ER: What Every Mom Needs to Know 


When it comes to caring for your infant in an emergency, not all hospital emergency rooms are created equal.

  A recent study showed that out of almost 4,000 emergency departments in the U.S., only 6 percent are fully prepared to properly care for pediatric patients, according to a new joint policy statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) and the Emergency Nurses Association (ENA), published recently in the journal Pediatrics.  

Unbeknownst to trusting and anxious parents, treating children can require a variety of specialized equipment — smaller blood pressure cuffs or narrower tubing, for example. Radiation and medication dosages need to be adjusted for children. Rectal thermometers should be available for infants. Also, children often show symptoms differently than adults. 


 “People think that pediatric patients are just small adults and they can [treat them] without special equipment or skill sets when, in fact, they need specialized care,” said Dr. Michael Kim, head of the Pediatric Emergency Department at the American Family Children’s Hospital in Madison, Wis. In a recent ABC interview. “If you don’t have a champion in the department, these things can get overlooked.”  Yet according to the report, only 56 percent of emergency care directors were actually aware that guidelines for pediatric emergency care were available.

Parents should always ask for certified pediatric nurses and pediatric emergency specialists. To be safe, check your local hospitals NOW, before an emergency strikes so you know which ER in your area is properly equipped to deal with an infant emergency. 


Many parents end up at their local hospital with a sick baby thinking any hospital can effectively deal with their emergency, only to find out otherwise.

This is a lesson Phyllis Rabinowitz  learned the hard way. On July 21, 2006, her daughter Rebecca Ava died at eight days old after being misdiagnosed in the emergency room. The trauma began with their ER experience. “The doctor was so dismissive. He was like, ‘this is just a common cold. I’ve seen children for 20 years. I’ve got to get to a real emergency down the hall’… No matter what my husband and I asked for, the whole experience was very condescending.  We knew she was sick,” Phyllis recalls.


They refused to readmit her. By the next morning baby Rebecca was septic and bleeding from the nose.  Phyllis will never forget the sight of her husband desperately performing CPR and the seemingly endless ride in the ambulance, but baby Rebecca didn’t make it. The Rabinowitz’s ordered a state autopsy, independent of the hospital, which revealed that baby Rebecca had a common enteroviral infection, not a common cold. Had baby Rebecca’s symptoms been properly diagnosed and treated she would still be here today.

Instead Phyllis and her husband, Andrew, learned in the most horrible way that most emergency room physicians are not properly trained in pediatric emergency care.  In fact, very few hospitals have all the necessary equipment to properly treat babies.


“Like any parent, we were profoundly sad and angry. I was in a deep depression. We started researching for answers. We knew something was not right. We learned how all ERs are not created equal when it comes to being ready to treat infants,” Phyllis says.

And then, sitting in their den, with supportive friends and family, Phyllis and her husband decided to do something. The R Baby Foundation  was born with the distinct purpose of saving as many babies lives as possible, particularly those have some sort of viral infection in their first month of life, by improving pediatric care in emergency rooms across the country.  


Today their work includes, raising awareness around infant mortality and emergency room care, providing training opportunities for anyone who touches a baby, providing life-saving equipment to hospitals, and parent education (check the website for a soon-to-be-released 10-page guide for parents).

I’m a proud supporter of the R Baby Foundation and I consider Phyllis as my sister in the struggle to reduce infant mortality—a cause I am passionate about .


This year, the MochaManual team and I will be once again participating in the R Baby Foundation’s Mother’s Day  Run/Walk  on Sunday, May 9th in Central Park, New York City to raise awareness and funds to improve emergency pediatric care for babies. What a great way to start my Mother’s Day!

Phyllis and I were having lunch recently and I so admired her strength (and her radiant glow, she’s expecting and looking fabulous!) and her determination to turn her tragedy into a triumph for other moms and their babies.


Phyllis had an amazing career in the cosmetics industry and a job she loved, but her life-changing experience became a career-changing experience. “I knew work would no longer fulfill me in the same way as being forever connected to my daughter through this work. I just followed my heart and never looked back,” she said as we talked about the joys and challenges of running a business.

If you’re a mom who followed her heart to a business or non-profit venture, join  Phyllis, myself and an amazing roundtable of kick-butt mompreneurs for a dynamic discussion of priorities, community, risking it all, and having it all this Friday, March 5th at 12:30 p.m. EST.    Click here to register for the live webcast event and join the conversation for a worthy cause http://www.rbabyfoundation.org/live.php


 As for life after loss, Phyllis said it best: “My baby only lived 8 days, but she’s in my heart everyday. And she inspired us to help save other babies so they could live their lives.”  


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