Medical equipment helps save baby’s life


A piece of equipment typically used for adult patients at Providence Kodiak Island Medical Center (PKIMC) saved a baby’s life at the end of January.

The eICU (enhanced intensive care unit) is in the intensive care unit and allows health care providers in PKIMC to link with Anchorage via video.

“We use it quite a bit for the adults and this was the first time we’ve been able to use it for the kids, and it was great to have somebody who deals with sick kids all the time be there for hours helping us through stuff,” Elizabeth Roberts said.

Roberts is one of the doctors who took care of Rysel Cruz, a baby who seemed to be having breathing problems.

“He was definitely having trouble breathing, but was still pink and smiling and not too bad, but sucking under his ribs to breathe,” she said.

Emelita Dela Cruz, Rysel’s mother, brought him in for a fever and cough. A chest x-ray indicated upper lobe pneumonia and led to a trip to Anchorage.

“Even after he went to Anchorage, nobody really knows exactly why (he was sick),” Roberts said.

A feeding problem may be to blame. Sometimes Rysel feeds by a tube, and since he has Down syndrome, it can be more difficult to eat properly.

“Our initial thought was that he had actually aspirated when he was eating, where some of the food he was eating, instead of going down into his stomach, went into his lungs,” Roberts said.

The pediatric specialist in Anchorage still wasn’t sure if that caused the pneumonia, but the eICU that the hospital just received this past year proved a vital piece of equipment.

“He would still be OK and be fine if we didn’t have the eICU — I would never want people to think that. I think the part that makes the eICU amazing is having somebody there who can do anything from tell you doses of medicines for a kid this size and weight off the top of her head, where the rest of us would be pulling out our cheat-sheet books,” Roberts said.

Alana Roe, a PKIMC nurse who worked on Rysel’s case as soon as he came into the hospital, thought the eICU was essential because the staff at the hospital doesn’t specialize in pediatrics.

“I think it was very important,” she said. “We don’t deal with pediatric emergencies on a regular basis so we have to think about it.”

Rysel is now fine, and Cruz, through a translator, said she is just happy at all the hard work Roberts and PKIMC put in.

“Thank you. Thank you very much,” she said.

Mirror writer Louis Garcia can be reached via e-mail at

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