Friday, June 22, 2018

Helping the Tiniest of Our Patients

For years, GBMC has been called “the baby hospital.” We are known as a premier birthing center, but we are also an outstanding center for the care of premature and sick babies. Our Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) treats roughly one in ten of the 4,000 babies born at GBMC annually.

On Tuesday, June 26, GBMC will officially open the doors to a new NICU that will allow us to continue to achieve excellent clinical outcomes in a state-of-the-art setting.

The new NICU will provide individual private spaces for babies and their families. Each of our new 13 rooms (10 single and 3 multiple-birth rooms) will allow for an individualized environment in terms of lighting, temperature, and sound.

Now, with this new NICU, we will provide an enriched environment for the infant and family to complement the leading-edge care provided to these highly vulnerable patients. We anticipate that the new NICU will further promote the short- and long-term clinical outcomes we are proud of at GBMC. As a member of the Vermont Oxford Neonatal Network (VON), we can compare our own outcomes annually as well as with a universe of tens of thousands of low birth weight infants each year.  Here are some key examples:

  • Utilizing VON definitions, we have reduced our incidence of chronic lung disease in very low birth weight babies by 75 percent since 2002.  These improvements were the result of our group adopting a standardized approach to the initial support and management of these infants, avoiding intubation and mechanical ventilation, improving nutrition, and adhering to tighter parameters for the provision of oxygen. For several of the past years, none of our babies were discharged home on supplemental oxygen therapy.  These quality improvements have been published in Pediatrics and other journals, and continue to be referenced in other peer-reviewed publications.

  • Similarly, with our improvements, our length of stay has also fallen significantly during the same period, and on average about 10 fewer hospital days than that of VON.

We know we have outstanding neonatologists, including Howard Birenbaum, MD, the NICU medical director, and Drs. Maria Pane and Sabah M. Helou.  We are also fortunate to have an incredible nursing staff is led by manager Kristin Trawinski, pediatricians, nurse practitioners, and talented and dedicated therapists. None of this though would be possible without the phenomenal support of our community, which over the past 30 years, has provided us with the financial assistance to provide expert around-the-clock, comprehensive care to our tiniest patients.

This past Sunday, I ran in our 30th annual Father’s Day 5K. As always, it was great to see so many parents of former NICU babies, as well as so many other people from the community and the GBMC staff, come out and participate in this terrific cause.

This year’s event, once again presented by the GBMC Volunteer Auxiliary, was incredible because it raised $184,000 towards the $4 million cost of the newly renovated NICU!  I want to thank the more than 700 participants, who ran or walked, and who spent part of their Father’s Day with GBMC to help support the NICU babies and their families.

Lastly, I want to thank everyone involved in our community Wellness Village, which featured health-related vendors. Additionally, MIX 106.5 Radio was on-site with its Friends and Neighbors van playing music and sharing prizes. Great work, everyone!!!

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