When serious chronic health problems forced Amanda Bass onto bedrest 19 weeks into her pregnancy and caused her to deliver son Owen at 26 weeks, the care she and her baby received at Regional One Health was nothing short of lifesaving.
The Daily Memphian recently chronicled the Bass family’s story – one of 1,000-1,200 a year that play out at Regional One Health’s Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center – in a report on the center’s 50th anniversary. The article details its founding in 1968 by Korones, a private practice pediatrician; the evolution of neonatal medicine (miniaturizing equipment has been crucial); and how doctors like current NICU Medical Director Ramasubbareddy Dhanireddy, MD are striving not only to save babies but to prevent them from being born premature and sick in the first place.
Amanda describes how a specialist’s recommendation to deliver at Regional One Health made all the difference for her family. “Out of every hospital I’ve ever been at – period, not just labor and delivery – the best, most positive experience I have ever had was there,” she said. “It’s because they do critical thinking. They look at your health as a whole.”
Dr. Dhanireddy credits a team approach that has experts meeting even before an at-risk baby is born, culminates at delivery and doesn’t stop until the tiny patient is ready to go home. “What we do in the delivery room – in the first few minutes, the first few hours – makes a big difference if the baby is going to survive,” he said. “It’s very gratifying to me to see these moms and dads coming back with their babies. It makes us believers in what we do.”
He says neonatal medicine has come a long way, but there is still so much more to achieve.
When Dr. Dhanireddy started his training in 1976, doctors did not resuscitate babies under 2.3 pounds; today, that same baby has a 95 percent chance of survival. But where the medical strides are amazing, he says, society must make similar advances in ensuring quality care to all women and preventing teen pregnancy and premature births.
“We are a rich and generous nation. I wish we would invest in women and children, to provide better pre-pregnancy and prenatal care,” he said. “Then, if all else fails, we have units like the newborn center to take care of them.”