Women Investing in Nebraska invest in Munroe-Meyer Institute (UCEDD/LEND)

November 13, 2017

An $85,000 grant from Women Investing in Nebraska (WIN) will boost efforts to help infants who spent time in a neonatal intensive care unit get needed medical assessment and treatment through the University of Nebraska Medical Center's Munroe-Meyer Institute (MMI).

WIN announced its grants, to MMI and the Brain Injury Alliance of Nebraska, at its 2017 grant awards celebration on Oct. 5.

Amy Nordness, Ph.D., director of speech-language pathology and Scottish Rite assistant professor at MMI, leads the Statewide NICU Feeding and Swallowing Follow Up program.

Dr. Nordness said newborns and infants who spend time in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) need to be monitored after dismissal to assure they are getting the nutrients they need to develop and grow.

Swallowing can be a problem for them, Dr. Nordness said, and a fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation used to detect it often involves travel to Omaha or Lincoln.

Dr. Nordness said the purchase of new portable equipment made possible with the grant funding is cost-effective, radiation-free and will enable the program to help more infants across the state.

"The earlier we support children with feeding and swallowing difficulties, the better their outcomes," Nordness said.

Also, many infants who spent time in the NICU participate in Tracking Infant Progress Statewide clinics, and the program's collaboration with those clinics will help assure families are connected to additional assessments and services, she said.

"By purchasing mobile equipment and training a network of speech pathologists across Nebraska to use it, more infants may be assessed and better treatment plans created for them," Dr. Nordness said.

Strong feeding and swallowing skills are tied to physical development as well as skills like self-calming, communication and bonding with their families, she said.

WIN is a collective giving group operating in partnership with the University of Nebraska Foundation and the UNF Charitable Gift Fund to support women philanthropists through education, engagement and empowerment. Each year, members' gifts are pooled and divided equally between a Nebraska nonprofit organization and a University of Nebraska program or organization.



Caption: From left, Kris Althouse, Jessie (Plude) McMordie and Amy Nordness, all representing Munroe-Meyer Institute, and WIN Chair Carey Hamilton and WIN members Linda Hoegemeyer and Shannon Sands.