Even Minutes Matter

It’s important for the NICU to collaborate with the High-Risk Obstetrics program to determine the right moment to deliver the baby. “We know that the interval between 25 and 28 weeks is crucially important for these small babies,” Dr. Mari says. “For each week that we can keep the baby in utero, we decrease the risk of infant mortality. We’ve done studies, and the risk of mortality decreases by 50 percent for each week the baby is able to stay in the womb. After 29 weeks, it is very likely that the baby will survive.”

However, sometimes the baby must be delivered much earlier. If complications begin to arise during a high-risk pregnancy, waiting even 45 minutes too long to deliver the baby could have a substantial negative impact on the newborn’s health outcomes.

“When the time comes, if I wait one hour too long to deliver that child,” Dr. Mari says, “the baby could have complications for their entire life, or might even die, so it’s critical to deliver the baby at the right time and have a highly talented NICU team ready to care for the baby immediately after birth.”

“We know critically ill or premature newborns will do better at Regional One Health than almost anywhere else in the country,” added Dr. Mari.

In fact, recent data on infant mortality collected from a network of over 1,000 hospitals around the world show that critically ill or premature newborns weigh less than 3½ pounds typically have a 20 percent lower risk of infant mortality at Regional One Health, compared to averages elsewhere. “We have a higher success rate for our smallest infants because of our teamwork at Regional One Health,” Dr. Mari says. “We’ve seen this improvement in our outcomes for premature or critically ill newborns since we began more systematically collaborating as a team to provide seamless care in 2008.”

Expanding Healthcare Opportunities

Regional One Health is also expanding healthcare opportunities for expectant mothers in the region with its Midwife Program. Not only does the Regional One Health Midwife Program provide a full spectrum of women’s healthcare, it also plays a role in performing risk assessments for expectant mothers to identify high-risk pregnancies.

“We specialize in normal pregnancies, so we know when something’s not right,” says Staci Thomas, a Certified Nurse Midwife. “If a pregnancy does become high-risk, we know that some of the best high-risk obstetricians in the country work right here at Regional One Health, so we can make sure mothers are seen quickly.”

Often, midwives at Regional One Health will collaborate with the high-risk obstetricians and the NICU team to co-manage the delivery for their patients. However, even when the mother is too high risk to be comanaged, those mothers can still come back to the midwives for postpartum care.

“Moms come back for two appointments after their babies are born, so we can check on how they’re adjusting and how they’re feeling,” Staci says. “At our doctors’ offices and primary care offices, these new mothers can see the pediatricians, family care doctors and their midwives — so when their baby has its two-week appointment with a pediatrician, the mother can also see someone who can help her with breastfeeding support, postpartum depression or contraception and family planning.”

“When a new mother has a relationship with a midwife at Regional One Health,” Staci adds, “we can provide the continuity of care essential for the health of new mothers and help their babies reach their first birthdays.”

A Moral and Ethical Commitment to Our Community

Dr. Reginald Coopwood, President and CEO of Regional One Health, shares this clear vision of the vital importance of these partnerships between the NICU and the High-Risk Obstetrics program.

“Every life is meaningful and important,” Dr. Coopwood says, “and at Regional One Health, we know that how we care for the vulnerable lives of these critically ill and premature newborns, from the moment they take their very first breaths, is the true measure of our value as a society.”

“Every time one of these high-risk babies goes home, healthy and happy,” Dr. Coopwood says, “I know that Regional One Health has done more than save a life; we’ve upheld our moral and ethical commitment to this community.”

Maternity Services Honored for Exceptional Performance

Regional Medical Center was recently recognized by the Memphis Business Group on Health for its national and metro Memphis market leadership in maternity care. The hospital received an award for “Exceptional Performance for Maternity Care.”

To read part one of our story, click here.

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