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Doctors at bigger hospitals will soon be able to help the Cody hospital determine if a baby needs NICU treatment

Cody regional tele program
Cody Regional Health
Cody Regional Health Women's Health and Nursery Director Natika Mitchell-Cowie sets up the camera for the new tele program.

Cody Regional Health is adding a new program to their Women’s Health and Nursery Department. With this addition, infants will be examined by doctors in Denver and Billings through video and audio to provide recommendations for treatment or evaluate the need to transfer them to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).

Currently, when a prematurely born baby shows signs of potentially needing higher care, doctors call a neonatal specialist. Before, this was only a telephone call, but this new program will now allow those specialists to also see and hear the baby through ultrasounds. Sonja Jackson, the Women’s Health and Nursery Department Clinical Supervisor, said this could result in fewer unneeded transfers.

“Some of those babies may be able to stay [in Cody] and it wouldn't be necessary for them to transfer,” said Jackson. “So it would be easier for the neonatologist to help make that determination that they [the infants] are physiologically stable and that they could stay at a level one nursery and they wouldn't need that higher level of care.”

Cody Regional Health is a Level 1 Nursery Center. That means the department’s capabilities include neonatal resuscitation at every delivery, evaluating and providing postnatal care for a stable newborn and stabilizing and providing care for infants born at 35 to 37 weeks if they remain physically and physiologically stable. If newborns are ill or born at less than 35 weeks, they may need to be transferred to a higher level of care elsewhere.

Common newborn conditions that could benefit from this new program are delivery before 36 weeks, need for advanced resuscitation or intensive care, breathing problems and birth defects.

Jackson said the need to transfer infants to the NICU has been happening more lately.

“With more and more problems that we see maternally, moms that have diabetes…we just seem like we have a higher incidence of problems that we'll see with the moms, so that then can be a higher risk that we'll see some problems with the baby later on,” said Jackson. “So it happens fairly frequently and it seems like it's happening more frequently, honestly.”

The tele program starts on April 4.

Kamila has worked for public radio stations in California, New York, France and Poland. Originally from New York City, she loves exploring new places. Kamila received her master in journalism from Columbia University. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring the surrounding areas with her two pups and husband.
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