Saint Francis Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) is known for its expertise. About half of the sick infants who receive care there are transported from other hospitals.
“When babies are born with difficulty breathing or brain injuries, staff at hospitals know we have the people, knowledge and equipment to care for them,” says Alan R. Barnette, MD, FAAP, neonatologist, Saint Francis Medical Partner.
A most critical time for sick newborns is right after birth, when they transition from the womb to the outside world. When possible, Saint Francis’ NICU transport team is present for the delivery of a preterm or sick baby at another facility.
The transport team includes an NICU nurse, a respiratory therapist and a neonatologist or nurse practitioner. “Our staff works very well together as a team,” says Barnette. “We care for sick infants every day. The care we provide during critical early times can optimize long-term breathing and developmental outcomes.”
Infants arrive via an ambulance or helicopter fully equipped with a warm isolette, multiple ventilation modalities and medications for a mobile intensive care environment. Parents do not travel with their baby, but they can maintain a connection to their child through a secure video connection with the Medical Center. “In most cases, mom is still recovering from delivery and unable to travel,” says Barnette. “But, parents will be the primary caregivers, and we keep them updated and involved in the care of their child.”
After delivery and during transport, the team provides breathing, blood pressure and temperature support for the baby. After reaching Saint Francis, the newborn will have access to an even bigger team of experts, including occupational, speech and physical therapists; respiratory therapists; and doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners who specialize in treating sick infants.
“Our team members work together, which results in better long-term outcomes for the infants,” says Barnette.