Children's Hospital NICU Featured on NPR

Two nurse practitioners from East Tennessee Children's Hospital's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) were recently featured on National Public Radio's program, StoryCorps.

StoryCorps is a non-profit organization that allows people from all over the country to share their story. Conversations are shared on the national NPR broadcast, as well as on the StoryCorps website and mobile app. Since 2003, StoryCorps has gathered nearly 400,000 interviews from across the United States, and has touched the lives of more than a quarter million people.

Kyle Cook and Carla Saunders, nurse practitioners at East Tennessee Children's Hospital, shared their experience treating infants with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome (NAS).

In the summer of 2010, hospital staff noticed a significant increase in the number of NICU babies who were exhibiting symptoms of withdrawal.

"We had 10, and then 15, and then, at one point, 37 babies in the NICU that were withdrawing," Cook remembers. "We were bursting at the seams."

"And so we went looking to the experts," Saunders says. "You know, let's call across the country, and let's find out what's the best way to treat these babies."

"And who knew that we would become the experts?" Cook says.

Discovering that nobody knew the best way to treat infants with NAS led to East Tennessee Children's Hospital creating their own program. The hospital established one of the first treatment protocols for babies exposed to opioids, as well as a program connecting mothers with treatment and therapy.

Since its airing on September 14, Cook and Saunders' story has been shared across the country through social media, news sites, and the StoryCorps mobile app. Their conversation has been archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, leaving a legacy for future generations.

Listen to the full interview on npr.org.

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