Describe your job for us.
First, I’m a clinical neonatologist, so I work in the Boekelheide Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Sanford Children’s Hospital. Second, I manage a grant for the Center of Disabilities of the Sanford School of Medicine of The University of South Dakota which involves the interdisciplinary evaluation and management of children with special healthcare needs. The third part of my job is research. Over the past five years, I have been comparing the previous open-bay NICU with the new Boekelheide single-family room NICU. This is one of the few comprehensive evaluations of this type that has been conducted to date. We are currently very busy writing reports and presenting our results at conferences.
Tell us more about your research at the Boekelheide NICU.
We’re still in the process of evaluating the data. We have a lot of information from the previous, open bay NICU before we moved into the single family rooms in the Boekelheide NICU. Most recently we looked at the sound levels, and we studied how the incubators dissipate some of sound. The other big factor is the respiratory equipment, which can increase the sound above the recommended level. That’s a new observation we just presented at a national meeting.
How has the NICU changed since you came to Sanford?
Obviously, the physical facilities have changed a lot. Since 1980, the survival rates for premature infants have dramatically improved. In addition, we now have the capability to do early corrective surgery for many babies with congenital defects. Neonatology has been a great field to have been in since the 1970’s, and I have really enjoyed practicing in Sioux Falls.
You started traveling when your kids did overseas programs for college and it has continued.
Our children lead us to expand our boundaries. In 1997, our daughter, Lisa, volunteered at a hospice in Jerusalem. It was around Christmas, so we packed up the rest of the family and celebrated Christmas, Ramadan and Hanukah in Jerusalem. Last year, we visited our son, Dave, in Chile and did a side-trip to Peru. We’ve also done pilgrimage trips with our church to Greece. A year later, we went to Germany and Poland to trace the history of Pope John Paul and Pope Benedict.
Now let’s scale back your transportation.
I’ve been addicted to electric trains for a long time. I received my first one at about four-months-of age. My two grandsons love trains as much as I do, so I have an excuse to buy more. But, I don’t always need a reason! I’ve been working on another layout for the last five years. Dr. Richard Lee with Sanford Clinic Vascular Associates is our neighbor and sometimes his three sons come over to run the trains with me and to help to work on the layout.