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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Doctor’s Donation Provides Boost for ODU’s Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Program

By Irv Harrell

Dr. Gary Karlowicz's history with Old Dominion University's neonatal nurse practitioner program goes back almost three decades. Some 28 years ago, the neonatologist at Children's Hospital of The King's Daughters in Norfolk was a lecturer for the program, which was discontinued in 2001.

When the program resumed in fall of 2016, Karlowicz continued his commitment to educating its students. Among his roles are helping with prenatal counseling simulation, teaching an embryology course and instructing students on proper intubation techniques. Intubation requires the insertion of a tube into the trachea to assist breathing.

Working with babies, particularly preterm ones, is a delicate skill. Worldwide, an estimated 15 million babies are born prematurely every year (more than one in 10), and about a million die from complications, according to the World Health Organization.

Taking his investment in the success of ODU's program a step further, Karlowicz recently donated $15,000 for the purchase of three preemie simulators for the School of Nursing.

"These high-fidelity mannequins have only been available for about five years," he said. "It's fairly common for medical professionals to have difficulty intubating a preemie."

Two of the mannequins are twins that can be used for procedure practice. They can provide immediate feedback for both successful and unsuccessful intubation through mannerisms such as chest rise, Karlowicz said.

The third mannequin has all of the mechanical features of the others but is also connected to an iPad for telemetry to practice scenarios for resuscitation. It can provide feedback such as heart rate, as well as offer more complex practice for nurse practitioner students on comprehensive exams.

The new equipment will give a boost to the neonatal nurse practitioner program, expanding its opportunities for more hands-on simulation, said Karen Karlowicz, the chair of the School of Nursing and Gary Karlowicz's wife. Besides the University of Virginia, ODU is the only other university in the state with a neonatal nurse practitioner program.

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