January 2, 2020

Michelle Morrow: Excellence in Safety

At the Q4 Staff Recognition Awards for 2019, Michelle Morrow was awarded the prize for Excellence in Safety and recognised as ‘an individual who has assisted in making Northern Health safer for patients, visitors or staff’.

Michelle, the Nurse Unit Manager of Maternity, recognised that there were a core number of mothers whose cultural background support co – sleeping with their babies – and education alone was not going to overcome their desire to do so.

She actively researched interventions that could prevent neonatal falls in this situation and discovered that infant mortality rates have been falling in New Zealand in recent years, after a decade of little change. Her research further showed that the Pēpi-Pod sleep space programme is one approach being applied in some regions of New Zealand and Australia to enable more vulnerable babies to have a safe space for sleeping .

It is a programme of ‘portable sleep space (PSS) plus safety education‘, that began as an emergency response during the Christchurch earthquakes of 2011. It is now offered to families of babies at increased risk of accidental suffocation.

Michelle arranged to trial a Pēpi-Pod borrowed from The Royal Women’s Hospital in Melbourne and, after the success of the trial, worked with The Northern Health Foundation to secure funding for 20 Pēpi-Pods. She also developed educational material for the unit to inform mothers and families of the safe option for safe co – sleeping with their babies.

“I am very grateful for the support received from both the Northern Health Public Affairs department, assisting with graphic design for brochures/posters, and the Northern Health Foundation for their financial assistance. We can now offer these to mothers who choose to co-sleep with their infants in the early days post birth. I am confident that the Pēpi-Pod will not only address and avert infant falls due to co-sleeping but will enhance breastfeeding and the patient experience. I am therefore delighted to receive the Excellence in Safety award for implementing an initiative so important to infant welfare,” says Michelle.

Chief Nursing and Midwifery Officer, Debra Bourne says, “Michelle took the initiative and ensured that the response to this safety issue, took into account patient groups and their preferences. She demonstrated exemplary leadership in promoting patient safety at Northern Health.”