CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs www.christvincent.com, a regional health network along with the Jefferson Regional Medical Center have joined the Arkansas Children’s Hospital (ACH) www.archildrens.org Nursery Alliance. The Alliance started in 2016 when Conway Regional Health Systems www.conwayregional.org joined the Alliance as the first hospital member.
ACH is one of the 25 largest children’s hospital in the U.S. and operates the state’s only designated Level IV NICU (100 beds), which is the highest level of acute care with access to pediatric specialists from all disciplines.
The collaboration addresses one of the major problems in Arkansas which is infant mortality. For every 1,000 babies born in the state, eight die before their first birthday. The neonatal period is specific to the first four weeks after birth at a time when changes happen rapidly and many critical changes can occur.
Feeding patterns are established, bonding begins between parents and infants, the risk of infections becomes more serious, and this is the time when many birth or congenital defects are first noted, cardiac malformations may be discovered, and some infants may develop surgical problems.
The Alliance directly coordinates care between neonatologists at ACH’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and physicians at other hospitals. Neonatologists at ACH now provide immediate consults to physicians at the Conway Regional Health System, CHI St. Vincent Hot Springs, and to the Jefferson Regional Medical Center. In addition, educational support is provided along with data reviews, implementation of best practices, and training on how to communicate using telemedicine is also provided.
In addition, the nursery alliance offers opportunities to track and monitor outcomes and to participate in ongoing research. Also, post discharge follow-up is going to include monitoring and measuring other health conditions through an expanded high risk newborn clinic network.