New hospital equipment gives parents more time to grieve

By  | 

FAIRBANKS, Alaska - Fairbanks Memorial Hospital now has a special piece of equipment, the first of its kind in the state.

Molly Murphy and Micky Ragsdale knew at 20 weeks that their son Neal was not built for life on the outside. After some initial testing, they traveled to Anchorage for further evaluation.

"The kids came with us, they got to see their brother alive up on the TV screen that was kind of cool. But we were able to see his heart and brain did not form properly, so we knew, this was going to happen," Murphy said.

They discovered Neal had a chromosomal disorder called trisomy 18 syndrome.

"It was devastating and it was hard. I remember when we walked into the building that day, a couple of the nurses that I knew would see me coming in with a very pregnant looking Molly and they were like 'oh great', and it's just like, oh no, it's not. So those were weird conversations to have with people because people see a pregnant lady and everyone's happy, and they should be, but to have to quickly change the subject is awkward," Murphy said.

Molly had a friend whose child was born with the same genetic disorder and used a cuddle cot when her child passed.

"And I knew we wanted one for this hospital," Murphy said.

The Ragsdale family, along with Nurses from FMH and the Foundation Health Partners, decided to fundraise to bring a cuddle cot to the hospital. The cuddle cot is designed to give families more time to spend with a child who has died. The bassinet has a cooling mechanism that helps preserve the body which makes it possible for families to stay in a room with the child in a quiet, calm and comforting setting.

"Especially in a time when a baby passes away, or when someone has a baby that doesn't survive pregnancy, it's very sudden, and the family hasn't had time to build memories and be able to bond, and so before this is all just taken away, from them, the cuddle cot allows that extended time," said Annie Perez with women and infant services at FMH.

FMH took an extra step when adapting this piece of equipment to the facility by making it look similar to furniture found in a nursery. On the front there are two inscriptions, one dedicated to baby Neal, and another to Breanna Klann, a nurse who was integral in starting the fundraising for the cuddle cot, but like those that she worked so hard to protect, her life was tragically cut short unexpectedly."

Kristy Terzi, says the Cuddle Cot was Breanna's final gift to the Hospital and her legacy.

"About twenty families a year, in our facility, receive perinatal bereavement support from the women's center. That's a significant number," she said.

As of January of this year, Fairbanks Memorial Hospital is the first in the state to have this type of equipment available for Families. The nurses are working to train those in the facility to become more familiar with the cuddle cot so they can continue to bring that support to families.