Constance Gasda Andrejko, DO ’01, IBCLC, FAAP


August 28, 2017

Vice President of Medical Affairs, Onsite Neonatal Partners, Bethlehem, Pennsylvania

[as told to David McKay Wilson]

Constance Gasda Andrejko“My practice covers neonatal intensive care units in 24 hospitals in nine states, providing 24/7 coverage with an attending neonatologist. As vice president of medical affairs, I supervise our directors and develop best practice standards to improve quality. It’s an incredible responsibility to develop clinical practice guidelines that can impact thousands of babies. . . . I primarily work clinically at WellSpan Ephrata Community Hospital in Lancaster County. Our population includes members of the Plain Community, as well as many mothers addicted to heroin and opioid medications. I love working with the Amish, learning and understanding their culture, and how they do things differently. They practice homeopathy, use herbal supplements and value osteopathic manipulative treatment. We see many undiagnosed congenital anomalies in the Amish. They are always very accepting of whatever their baby is like because they have such a strong faith. It is amazing to witness their fortitude, especially when we need to deliver difficult news about a lethal diagnosis for their baby. . . . The opioid epidemic has also hit here. There are a growing number of moms hooked on prescription pills and heroin, who get pregnant, and feel helpless—and then their newborns end up in the NICU, often dependent on opioids themselves. We show respect for all mothers, regardless of why their baby is in the NICU. We do all we can to support the mother because her baby will likely go home with her. We build up her confidence instead of being judgmental. If she is successful as a mother, she will be less likely to use drugs again. . . . My own twins, born at 34 weeks, were in the NICU. I think every healthcare professional needs to experience what it is like to be a patient or a parent of a patient. It should be a mandatory part of medical training—especially in pediatrics. I believe interns and residents should pair up with pediatric patients and stay overnight in a hospital to see what a parent sees. You should have seen me when my twins were in the NICU; I was a crazy mom. But you are allowed to be crazy if your babies are separated from you.”