First graduates of Prematurity Program in Latvia

The Children's Hospital received the first graduates of Prematurity Ambulatory Health Program, as well as provided information on the implementation of the Program, the number of patients and the results of children parents and specialists survey for the first year of the Program.

In the official ceremony, the first graduates of the Program — twin sisters Dārta and Rūta, and Pauls Roberts received the diploma, medal and gift from Mrs. Iveta Vējone, Patroness of the charity campaign "The Safe Cape", the First Lady of Latvia, and Andris Vilcmeiers, the Chairman, Representative of the campaign supporter SIA "Maxima Latvija".

Mrs. Iveta Vējone, the First Lady of Latvia, welcomed the Program's contribution to the improvement of the ambulatory care of premature babies. She acknowledged: "It's the very first years of a child's life that is very intense in terms of both growth and development, and life events. Therefore, it is time when we, adults, have to create an environment in which the child feels cared, protected and gets all the medical assistance they need." The First Lady thanked the medical staff for their care, work and medical assistance, and expressed the hope that the Program would be continued and improved in the future in accordance with the needs of premature babies.

In March 2017, a survey was carried out of children's parents and specialists who provide services within the Program, involving 125 children’s parents and 25 specialists who receive and provide services in all places of the Program implementation in Latvia. As a result of the survey, it was found out that 93% of the respondents-parents felt that their knowledge and information about childcare had improved and they were satisfied with the service they received. Parents rated positively also other aspects related to the organization of the service, such as the appointment system. The visit time was highly appreciated, as a 40-minute visit gives parents an opportunity to find out all the interesting questions about the child's health and development. The program was critically appraised by specialists; they mentioned the most important shortcomings of the Program, for example, insufficient remuneration for outpatient consultations and human resources. Specialists in the survey also mentioned the need to include additional specialists in the Program, as the most important mentioning of psychologist whose consultations are currently not available for free, but would be required within the Program, as is the case in other parts of the world. At the same time, specialists are pleased that within the framework of the Program there is an opportunity to provide timely assistance for their patients.

"In Latvia, 557 children were born to 34th gestational week in 2015, while 508 children were included in the 2016 program, which is a very good indicator! The number of children who, for various reasons, had dropped out of the Program, was very small — not exceeding 2%. We receive positive feedback about the Program every day, parents very much appreciate that the child has access to professional and coordinated assistance. Today, it was a great pleasure to see our first graduates and their parents for whom the program is a special stage of life, which is now coming to the end. Therefore, we wanted the last visit of the Program to be special, and we are grateful to "Maxima Lavija" which has been supporting the Program since 2015, for their responsiveness and opportunity to provide all the graduates with diplomas, medals and books that will remain as a memory!" — told Liene Dambiņa, Head of the Children's Hospital Foundation.

"We are pleased that for several years now we have had the opportunity to support the Children's Hospital Foundation and BKUS and that we could also be part of the Prematurity Care Program "Safe Cape", providing these children with medical assistance and care. Today, we can witness the graduation of the program "Safe Cape", when after the start of the program a lot has been achieved — together we have succeeded in giving children the opportunity to grow healthy and live a healthy life," — says Andris Vilcmeiers, Head of SIA "Maxima Latvija".

The largest implementer of the Program is VSIA Children's Clinical University Hospital where 407 children received services in 2016. Within the framework of the Program, 2143 consultations were provided and, from the total number of consultations, more than 500 consultations were needed from other professionals not included in the Program, for example, neurologist.

The head doctor of the CCUH, Dr. Renāte Snipe, emphasizes that medical opportunities have developed considerably in recent years, as a result of which physicians has the opportunity to save especially prematurely born babies who need special treatment at the beginning of their life. "Thanks to the Children's Hospital Foundation and the support of contributors, the Hospital management and neonatologists have addressed the rational health service as well as the Ministry of Health, and have managed to create a state-funded program that will provide children and their families with not only medical but also emotional support," — explains R.Snipe, adding that the Children's Clinical University Hospital has made a significant contribution to organizing work, by connecting inpatient services to outpatient services, which means that Program participants are regularly observed and monitored in order to detect problems and provide prompt assistance.

The purpose of the Program is to timely detect, correct and prevent the emergence and progression of possible pathologies, by providing a child with a team of professional, multidisciplinary specialists and supervision, thereby improving the health and mitigating disability risks in the future. As a result of the implementation of the Program, the healthcare of children born to 34th gestational week has changed significantly, as within the framework of the Program, they receive outpatient service made especially for their health needs, until the age of 2. The service is provided in Jēkabpils, Liepāja, Valmiera and Rīga. Within the framework of the Program, there are 7 neonatologist visits — at the corrected age of 1 month, 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 1.5 years and 2 years. The duration of a neonatologist's visit is two times longer than regular consultation with a specialist — 40 min, so that an in-depth assessment of the child's development and provision of information to the parents can be carried out.

The Program was created by the neonatologists of the Children's Hospital in cooperation with colleagues in the regions, while the Children's Hospital Foundation, together with its allies, organized a charity campaign ‘Safe Cape’ to launch the Program. The donated funds of EUR 62 964.20 were spent on specialist training, office equipment and methodological materials.