Dr. Sheldon B. Korones, founder of Regional One Health’s NICU
In the 1960s, neonatology was a new specialty that found a number of pediatricians devoting themselves to improving outcomes for critically ill and low birth weight newborns.
In July of 1968, a true pioneer in the field of neonatology founded what would become his namesake – the Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center. This year marks the 50th birthday of the Newborn Center, or neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Regional One Health. Dr. Sheldon B. Korones was in private practice in Memphis in 1968 when he decided to devote his practice to the care of critically ill infants. He was one of the first neonatologists in the United States to bring specially trained social workers and perinatal workers together to help the whole family cope with the challenges that result for a premature or critically ill newborn. The Newborn Center credits its success to a multidisciplinary approach to caring for patients, a legacy that has continued today under the leadership of Dr. Ramasubbareddy Dhanireddy.
Only the second medical director of the Newborn Center, Dr. Dhanireddy joined Regional One Health in 2005 when Dr. Korones retired.
Dr. Dhanireddy with a patient in the Sheldon B. Korones Newborn Center
“In the early days of neonatal intensive care, if a baby was born weighing two pounds, we would place them in the bed and call a priest. There was little to be done for them,” remembered Dr. Dhanireddy. “But not today. Today that baby born at 2 pounds has a 95 percent chance of survival.”
Technology advances, quality improvement initiatives and the passionate care of the entire NICU team makes success stories more the norm than the exception these days. The Newborn Center team includes physicians, nurses, pharmacists, respiratory therapists, social workers and other perinatal specialists. In recent years, they have taken on new quality initiatives to continue the mission of reducing infant mortality rates and have earned recognition from the Vermont Oxford Network, a group of more than 850 neonatal ICUs from around the word. Many of our patient success stories will be shared in the coming months on this page and on social media.