Children’s Mercy and Community Hospitals Team Up to Provide Advanced Support to Newborns in the NICU
Giving birth is a joyous time, but when a baby is born premature or sick and needs to spend time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) it can be extremely stressful for new parents. These newborns need specialized, round-the-clock care, sometimes for days or even months. To help keep moms and babies together in their own community, Children’s Mercy – the only Level IV NICU within a 200-mile radius – created the Metropolitan Neonatal Service (METRO) program.
As part of METRO, Children’s Mercy neonatologists and neonatal advanced practice registered nurses provide on-site support and pediatric expertise in NICUs at six area hospitals.
“Every NICU has a medical director that is a Children’s Mercy neonatologist,” said Steven L. Olsen, MD, FAAP, Division Director, Neonatology, Children’s Mercy. “We also have a core group of neonatologists that cover that area and each hospital has a core group of nurse practitioners.”
While 10% of all newborns need specialized care after birth, such IV fluids, antibiotics or help breathing with a ventilator, only 1% are critically ill and need to be transferred to Children’s Mercy. The program is designed to take care of babies in the exact place they need to be taken care of.
“Not all newborns that require a higher level of neonatal care need a Level IV NICU. Our goal is to identify babies who can stay at community hospitals and provide a higher level of service there,” said Dr. Olsen.
Last year, 43 infants born at Mosaic Life Care in St. Joseph received critical care transport to Children’s Mercy in Kansas City. Mosaic is the newest member of the METRO program and now more babies will have access to support without leaving the hospital.
“This partnership means our families that require NICU services will have the immediate access to the expertise of neonatal nurse practitioners from Children’s Mercy, working alongside our highly trained staff,” said Adriana Nabors, RN, BSN, MSN, FNP-C, CENP, Vice President, Mosaic Life Care. “It allows families to stay together if the baby doesn’t have to be transferred, which reduces stress and is cost effective for families, too.”
North Kansas City Hospital has been a long-time METRO partner and Catherine Bonderer, BSN, RNC-OB, NE-BC, senior director of North Kansas City Hospital’s Maternal Child department, said knowing neonatal advanced practice registered nurses are available 24/7 also gives delivering moms peace-of-mind for when things don’t go as planned, “Moms and babies benefit from Children’s Mercy’s expertise during those ‘just in case’ moments, when newborns may require specialized care or varying degrees of resuscitation.”
Dr. Olsen added that he’s the doctor no parent wants to see, but parents are glad to see him when needed, “Everyone assumes their baby is going to be fine, but when something isn’t quite right panic can set in for these families and although they hate the situation, they’re relieved to know our team is there to provide specialized care for their child.”
In addition to improving outcomes, the METRO program also provides ongoing education and training for staff, and access to a collaborative network of other Children’s Mercy partner NICUs for shared learning opportunities.
“The Children’s Mercy partnership with AdventHealth Shawnee Mission dates back to 2003 and during that time we have grown from a 12-bed NICU to a 32-bed NICU, taking babies as early as 27 weeks gestation,” said Ellen Acinger, BSN, RNC-NIC, clinical nurse manager, AdventHealth Shawnee Mission. “The education and mentorship we have received from the Children’s Mercy Neonatology team over the years has been key to our growth and success.”
Community hospitals also benefit from the high academic level of neonatal care, “Everything Children’s Mercy does as far as evidence-based medicine and protocols gets pushed to the community hospitals,” said Dr. Olsen.
The METRO program is collaborative effort and a shared commitment to improve care.
“This long-standing relationship reflects our commitment to improving national neonatal outcomes,” said Catherine. “Our nurses have trusted advisors at their fingertips, allowing us to streamline quality patient care.”
Ellen added, “Our long-standing relationship has made the Children’s Mercy neonatologist and neonatal nurse practitioners an integral part of our team. They have mentored us through many changes over the years, resulting in better outcomes for our patients and families.”
Dr. Olsen couldn’t agree more, “we will always do what is best for the baby, because in the end the most important thing is the outcome.”
Learn more about Children's Mercy Level IV NICU.