Walk onto the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at the Misericordia Community Hospital, and you might overhear Tara Follett uttering soft, motherly coos while she examines the tiny infants in her care.
In 2016-17, one in every five children born in Alberta was born at a Covenant Health hospital.
Source: 2017 Annual Report to the Community
It is obvious that Tara loves babies, and her job.
Tara has been a nurse since 1991 and a nurse practitioner since 2005. “This is my passion. This is my love. And I will retire doing the same job in the same field.”
Though she has spent 26 years working with babies, every day is new and inspiring for Tara. “Having a baby in neonatal intensive care is a life-changing event for the families. I feel very privileged to be part of their journey,” she explains. “I enjoy watching how families change through this entire process. Every relationship I have with a baby, with a family—it changes. I grow. I think I become a better practitioner.”
Tara fosters strong relationships with the families and empowers them with knowledge and skills.
Over the years, she has learned a few simple practices she believes are key to a healthy start. “I try to get the families very involved in infant care in those first days,” she says. “I get them holding their babies, get them really understanding the process and flow in the NICU. Knowledge is power.”
Tara also makes a point of being available to families, answering their questions and using simple terms. “Healthcare teams talk in acronyms. We don’t use everyday language. I make a point of breaking things down for families so they can understand what is happening.”
“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction."
Tara begins each healthcare journey with the end in mind.
“Discharge planning with me starts on day one,” she explains. “We are always thinking ahead: What are the next steps? What do we need to talk about?
“I partner with the families through this process. At the start of the journey, the partnership is a bit unbalanced because the healthcare professional is a bit more involved. At the end of their stay, the healthcare professional is less involved and the parents are driving the care. You can see that empowerment. It is so rewarding.
“When the babies are discharged, the families are so ready to take these babies home,” she adds. “They are prepared. We have done our job.”
Read more about Tara in the 2017 Annual Report to the Community
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