A leg-up for premature children
As seen November 1 2014 in The Age (Melbourne), Sydney Morning Herald & Essential Baby website.
"Thanks for your interest in the article, we would just like to clarify that comments regarding limited follow-up for late term prems was not in relation to patients of the Mercy Hospital for Women. The Mercy Hospital for Women does have follow-up for babies born 36 weeks and earlier."
Having a hands-on role in advancing the development of premature babies is a regularly fulfilling job, according to premature birth expert Simone Mossop.
She says one of her standout experiences to date has been with a premature baby she first treated right after the baby was discharged from hospital.
Doctors predicted the girl - who had had a bumpy medical ride - would never use the left side of her body again. Part of Mossop's ongoing treatment was having her participate in upper body exercises on vertical surfaces to encourage arm use. At one point, Mossop had a camera handy, she says, which proved fortuitous.
"The one moment I've got the camera on her in a program, she reached out to me with a ball with her left hand," Mossop says. "That was such a special moment because it captured this little girl who was told she wouldn't use the left side of her body." Mossop is the founder of ReadyStepGrow, a charity organisation that supplies education and support programs for parents with premature children. She delivers the programs, performs management/operational tasks and raises awareness about the challenges and learning and developmental risks associated with premature birth.
"The main goal of the program is the social and emotional development of these children," Mossop says.
"Most children that are born pre-term are discharged without further care. Parents are sort of left on their own with lots of questions, because they're Googling and they understand that their children are at risk." Mossop has a unique career background that informs her approach to her role. In addition to being a neonatal nurse who worked in hospitals in Australia and overseas (she still works in intensive care at the Mercy Hospital for Women), she has also been a primary school teacher.
As a teacher at St Joseph's Primary School in Malvern, she saw a string of premature children entering the education system with learning difficulties that were magnified in the school setting.
Mossop began ReadyStepGrow in 2012 to bridge the service gap affecting families with premature children.
"It's constantly evolving," she says. "For somebody who has had no business background, the hugest learning curve has been what it takes to develop an organisation." As the organisation continues to grow, Mossop says she finds herself refining her goals. In the next few years, she's aiming to expand her programs to have regional and interstate reach, which she hopes will further allay the problems premature baby families face.
"That was my frustration. There was so much research and it seemed so glaringly obvious that we needed to start putting some professional programs in."