Interview: Dr. Guy Widrich, Neonatologist and Medical Director of the NICU
Tell us a little about yourself!
My name is Dr. Guy Widrich and I am a Paediatrician and Neonatologist, which means I’m specialized in intensive care for newborns. I am also the Medical Director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Humber River Hospital.
I have worked at Humber since 1997 and became the Director of the NICU in 2015, just before the Wilson Site opened.
How would you explain your job to a friend?
As a Neonatologist, I am specialized in resuscitating newborns, diagnosing disease progression in newborns, and stabilizing and treating newborns who need intensive care. My patients are often premature babies, babies who are born with certain conditions, babies who have trouble breathing, and babies with social issues.
As Medical Director of the NICU, my role is to ensure that we provide the same excellent standard of care for every baby admitted to our Unit. We have many physicians on our team and my role is to make sure every baby is treated as a Neonatologist would treat them.
What makes you proud of the NICU at Humber?
Every Tuesday morning, every week of the year we do multi-disciplinary rounds in the NICU. This means that we visit each baby with the Clinical Practice Leader, the Manager, the Occupational Therapist, the Dietician, the Social Worker, the Lactation Consultant, and often the parents. We go through the baby’s report, answer questions the parents may have, discuss discharge planning, order tests, and screen the babies. It gives me the opportunity to see if we need to make any changes in the baby’s care too.
Our NICU has come so far from the days when we had 10-12 beds at the Finch Legacy Site. We have grown, and our fantastic team is equipped to care for more complicated babies. We used to have a standard TPN (or total parenteral nutrition drip) for every baby – now the TPN is tailored to each specific baby and how their individual needs might change every day. We also now have ways to prevent unnecessary admissions to the NICU. For example, we use glucose gel for babies with low sugar so that they can now stay with their parents in the Mother Baby Unit.
Has COVID affected your work at all?
We have had babies that were born to COVID-positive moms, and for everyone’s safety we treat all of our babies like they might have COVID until proven otherwise. We swab the parents and babies, wear our Personal Protective Equipment properly, keep the incubator doors closed, and we have had to restrict our visitors to one parent per baby.
What do you love about your job?
I love working in intensive care because it is very hands-on. I’m proud of the work that we do and the skillset we have, like being able to resuscitate babies.
Most of our babies have good outcomes and it is nice to watch them grow up. Sometimes I’m lucky enough to see them in my private Paediatrics practice all grown up. I had one patient I remember weighing 500 grams at birth – I could hold her in one palm. Not long ago she was off to university taller than I am.
What is one awesome thing you have done in the last year?
I was given the opportunity to take on a leadership role during the pandemic, being involved in setting up new standards and protocols. It wasn’t something I expected, but I’m really proud that it was a challenge I could rise to. With the second wave, we are more prepared and less afraid, and I know everyone will rise to the challenge again.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by the teamwork in the NICU, by how everyone pulls their weight and everyone does their best. And I’m also inspired by the babies themselves; they are poked, they go through invasive procedures, they’re hooked up to lots of tubes – and to see them pull through is inspiring.