On Monday, July 11, the maternity ward staff at Hilton Head Hospital did just what they were supposed to do.
Thanks to the South Carolina Newborn Screening Collaborative – On Time Every Time, prompt collection of blood samples from newborn infants are now a matter of course, as is a quick turnaround from the DHEC lab that screens the sample for 52 different disorders.
And when the results from one particular infant were returned to the pediatrician and metabolic specialist four days later on July 15, that attention to time turned out to be critical. The physicians were able to identify a likely case of fatty acid oxidation disorder, a rare inherited condition that can lead to serious complications like brain damage, an enlarged heart or even death if untreated.
Thanks to the early detection of the disease and with careful treatment in the future, the newborn now has a chance to live a healthy, normal life. That prognosis is due in no small part to the speed and efficiency that Hilton Head Hospital and DHEC have when it comes to newborn screenings.
“We make sure we get metabolic screenings taken care of right around 24 hours after the first feeding,” says Rebecca Cherrington, who serves as Women’s Services Director at the hospital. The hospital has long had the practice of postmarking the samples within 24 hours of collection as well, using FedEx to ensure Friday and Saturday deliveries get to DHEC in time.
“We definitely have a process in place that makes sure it gets to DHEC in a timely manner.”
Cherrington also notes that they take metabolic screening seriously, making sure to train new nurses on correct techniques for getting a good sample, which is particularly important given the finicky nature of the paper cards that they are preserved on. The hospital recently sent a veteran group of nurses to a DHEC meeting to brush up on proper procedures.
All part of a day’s highly reliable work in a South Carolina hospital.