April 5 was a poignant day for the Peltier family of Vista and the Tri-City Medical Center staff who saved their newborn son.
At 9 a.m., a voice on the hospital’s intercom system announced the commencement of “Code Caleb” in the Emergency Department. It was the formal launching of a new hospital code, one the Peltiers and hospital staff hope will save babies in distress, babies such as 3-day-old Caleb Peltier, who was unconscious when he was brought into the Emergency Department on Sept. 21, 2010.
Caleb, who was barely breathing, was saved by Dr. Gene Ma, head of the Emergency Department, and Dr. Hamid Movahhedian, a neonatologist and pediatric cardiologist who quickly diagnosed the infant’s congenital heart defect.
That was 18 months ago.
The case was the catalyst for hospital staff, led by Dr. Movahhedian, to formalize a process that would ensure all babies get the immediate care they need when they come into Tri-City’s Emergency Department.
Code Caleb is intended to sound an alarm for any baby under 60 days old. The hospital already has a Code Pink for children under 14 who are brought into the emergency room with life-threatening conditions.
The months of planning that went into preparing for the launch of Code Caleb were on display Thursday as hospital staff performed a drill to hone their skills. On hand to witness the demonstration were members of the Peltier family.
It was the first time the Peltiers had been back to the ER since Caleb’s initial visit. The drill took place in the same room where Caleb lay in distress, his parents helpless to comfort their newborn son. Standing there, watching and listening as the nurses and doctors worked on an imaginary patient the same age as Caleb, “was tough,” said mom Casey Peltier.
Several of Caleb’s family members burst into tears as the drill got under way because it triggered memories of that difficult and uncertain time. Young Caleb was not present for the drill. He was home resting. While he’s doing well, he faces surgery to repair a sub-aortic valve, his mom said.
The process behind Code Caleb was developed over the last year by Tri-City nurses Melissa Van Nostran and Wendy Rosenberger from the Emergency Department, Nancy Myers from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Ann Sidney from the Education Department. The group looked at the logistics involved in having a baby admitted to the ER who is in need of critical neonatal care. They investigated what equipment would be needed, Myers said, and how to fold in the two teams from two very different worlds – the Emergency Department and the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Once the pieces were in place, the program was brought before the hospital’s medical staff and board for approval.
Nancy Myers also pushed the program back out in the community, working with paramedics in the field to ensure babies began receiving critical, life-saving care before they reach the hospital.
Caleb’s dad, Daniel Peltier, praised Tri-City’s staff for saving his son. “God knows what the outcome would have been” had Caleb been taken to another hospital ill-equipped to handle the infant’s condition, he said. “Thank God he ended up here.”