Tiny patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Centennial Hills Hospital will benefit from the expertise of physical therapist Wendy Hubbard-Alexandre, who earned the designation of Certified Neonatal Therapist (CNT) by the National Association of Neonatal Therapists on April 30, 2018, and specializes in the care of premature infants.
Wendy joins the select ranks of approximately 180 physical, occupational and speech therapists worldwide who have earned the designation. She is one of approximately 50 physical therapists worldwide, and one of two in Nevada; both of whom work for The Valley Health System in Las Vegas.
According to Wendy, pre-term and other high-risk infants who begin their lives in the NICU have higher rates of disability, which are often evident before the babies leave the hospital. “Early therapy interventions can make a positive, long-term impact,” explained Wendy. With her neonatal physical therapy skills, Wendy performs activities (interventions) targeting functional limitations, ensuring the baby has developmentally appropriate sensory and motor experiences, educating the family and medical staff, and serving as an integral part of the NICU care team.
The American Occupational Therapy Association, the American Physical Therapy Association, and the American Speech Language and Hearing Association all recognize therapy that occurs in the NICU as an advanced area of practice. Neonatal Therapy National Certification ensures that therapists who work in the NICU have met minimum standards set by the Neonatal Therapy National Certification Board and endorsed by the National Association of Neonatal Therapists.
To earn the designation, Wendy has a minimum of 3,500 hours of direct practice in the NICU, taken a minimum of 40 hours of education related to the NICU, received 40 hours of mentored experiences and achieved a passing score on the Neonatal Therapy National Certification Exam. This has given Wendy the distinction of Certified Neonatal Therapist, which is valid for five years. Her work as a Certified Neonatal Therapist is described to families and other members of the medical team, and featured after her signature on medical documentation.
The Certified Neonatal Therapist designation is less than two years old; it was first announced in September 2016 and the application process became effect in November 2016.
Centennial Hills Hospital has offered neonatal intensive care services since 2009 and cared for its first set of triplets in June 2018.