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Nursing department given $20,000 grant

Katie Kohler | Thursday, October 27, 2005

Seeking help in researching the cause of fetal and infant mortality, the St. Joe County Health Department awarded the Saint Mary’s College Nursing Department a $20,000 grant for a Fetal and Infant Mortality Research Review (FIMR) Case Abstract Project.

Linda Zoeller, chair and associate professor of nursing at Saint Mary’s, said the Case Abstract Project monitors babies from birth until death.

Then, the Abstract looks at various factors such as prenatal care, if the baby received neonatal intensive care and the status and health of the mother in order to “determine the demise of the baby,” Zoeller said.

“Our ultimate goal is to shed light on this serious public health problem,” Zoeller said. “Students will assist the county health department in determining the cause of fetal deaths in the last trimester of pregnancy and the cause of infant deaths [within the first year of life] in 2005.”

St. Joe County reported between 50 and 60 infant and fetal deaths on average each year.

Zoeller chose five senior nursing students through an application and interview process in order to assemble her team. The group of students will analyze data from St. Joe county hospitals and emergency rooms. With the leadership of Zoeller, they will also review autopsy reports and other medical information of both the mother and the child.

“[Seniors] are experienced in OB and pediatrics and are able to understand how hospital records are taken,” Zoeller said.

The manner in which data is collected for the project, which has already begun and will continue until February of 2006, will greatly affect the results, Zoeller said.

“By examining and organizing research data and looking at these cases as a whole, we hope to spot some trends that allow us to develop data-based interventions,” Zoeller said.