Neonatal Unit to Expand

Lao Friends Hospital for Children has the region’s only neonatal care unit.
Photo by Kenro Izu

Admissions to our Neonatal Unit have exceeded expectations.

LFHC opened the unit in an area that provided space for 6-8 beds. Hospital administrators anticipated that a unit of that size would be sufficient for several years. However, community awareness of our Neonatal Unit and an increase in the local birth rate sparked a surprising number of admissions soon after the unit opened. Furthermore, LFHC admits neonates who would otherwise have been discharged from other hospitals with an expectation that they could not survive.

By mid-2017, the neonatal caseload was taking up 10-12 beds a month and in October the numbers peaked at 15 newborn babies. Our resourceful doctors and nurses made room for the additional neonatal beds in isolated areas with the Emergency Room and Inpatient Department of the hospital. Needless to say, the situation was less than ideal.

Hospital Administrator Simon Young and his staff brainstormed ideas to find a more permanent solution to the lack of bed-space in the Neonatal Unit. In January, he announced that an agreement had been reached with the Luang Prabang Provincial Health Department and the Luang Prabang Provincial Hospital which will result in the relocation of our Neonatal Unit inside the adjacent provincial hospital.

Friends Without A Border will incur expenses related to the move and the renovation of the space being provided by the provincial hospital. Our Neonatal Unit will move into an area that had been occupied by the hospital’s pediatric ward. The hospital recently closed its pediatric ward, leaving LFHC as the ONLY children’s hospital in northern Laos. The vacated area is structurally sound, but will need such renovations as new electrical power, water and internet capabilities.

By relocating our Neonatal Unit to the adjacent provincial hospital (75 meters away) we double our bed-space and gain room to better serve the parents of these infants. Plans call for 8 beds in a general neonatal ward, 4 more beds for high-dependency infants and a 4-bed step-down area for babies who need low-intensity, but long-term care. The unit will also feature a resting room for parents and a breastfeeding room exclusive to nursing mothers. Plans also call for a clinic area, where discharged neonates can be reviewed, a staff education area and storage space.