Empowered by ECHO in the NICU
Emma Henggeler, RN, is Inspired by ECHO to Advocate for Moms in the NICU and Deepen Her Research into Postpartum Depression
Emma Henggeler has changed hundreds of diapers in her life.
She is the oldest in a large family and has been an RN at St. Luke’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for five-and-a-half years.
“I come from a medical family – nurses, doctors, pharmacists,” she said. “As the oldest sibling, it was natural for me to gravitate to nursing. Since I’m a peacekeeper archetype, I need to know what’s going on beneath the surface and nursing lends itself to whole-person care.”
For some of the families Henggeler works with at the NICU, complexities beneath the surface may be related to mental health, substance use disorder, or both. To better understand neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS)—a condition facing babies who are born dependent upon substances they were exposed to in the womb—and how to provide better care to both infants and families while they are in the NICU, Henggeler routinely attended ECHO Idaho’s 2020 Perinatal Substance Use Disorder (SUD) series.
The virtual 10-part series brought some of Idaho’s most accomplished and well-respected neonatal care and addiction specialists together to provide one-hour continuing education events via Zoom. Sessions were free to anyone who wanted to attend. Because of the prevalence of NAS across the country and demand for programming like this in Idaho, ECHO Idaho is offering the series again this year.
Free, Bite-Sized Chunks of Knowledge
Henggeler found more confidence in her advocacy of parents that struggle with substance use disorders to remain present with their child in the NICU through attending ECHO Idaho’s PSUD series.
"ECHO Idaho is great because it provides you with knowledge in bite-size chunks for free. You get the opportunity to engage with experts and peers alike, and you discover what else you want to learn more about." Emma Henggeler, RN, St. Luke’s NICU
“We do our best, but the NICU just isn’t a very comfortable environment. There’s a lot of stress in the air,” she said. “Families with substance use disorder may feel even more uncomfortable there because of implicit biases and judgements. But we know that mom is best for baby and attending Perinatal Substance Use Disorder empowered me to advocate for mom to be present.”
Along with finding a voice to support mothers, Henggeler appreciated that ECHO Idaho provided exposure to topics that were not yet on her radar.
“To get all the information packed into an ECHO series like this one, you’d have to know what you don’t know – and you’d have to pay for it,” she said. “ECHO Idaho is great because it provides you with knowledge in bite-size chunks for free. You get the opportunity to engage with experts and peers alike, and you discover what else you want to learn more about.”
ECHO Idaho programming is hosted over lunch hours and continuing education (CE) credits are available each session. Full series attendance is not required and participants can join as their schedule allows. Session recordings also become available for viewing on YouTube the following week.
Henggeler is currently working on her Doctorate of Nursing Practice at Idaho State University. Partially inspired by what she learned at the Perinatal SUD series, she is working on a capstone project that will provide postpartum depression resources to providers like herself. To help accomplish this goal, she’s been in touch with some of the maternal fetal medicine specialists who helped facilitate the Perinatal SUD series, including St. Lukes’ Stacy Seyb, M.D., and Jeri Woodworth, RNC-OB.
“ECHO Idaho is high value,” said Henggeler. “It’s easy to participate, offers free CE and provides me with a really meaningful hour with others who are in my field and want to help, like I want to help.”
ECHO Idaho’s 10-part Perinatal Substance Use Disorder series begins Wednesday, March 10, and meets the second and fourth Wednesdays of the month from noon to 1 p.m. Mountain time. A full schedule of session topics, as well as registration information is available online.
Written by Lindsay Lodis and Sam Steffen, ECHO Idaho.
Photos courtesy of Emma Henggeler.
Published February 2021.