In the last year, 37 babies were able to spend time bonding with their mothers during their first few days of life instead of being transferred to another facility, thanks to some important advances made to the nursery at Chandler Regional Medical Center.
In August 2008, Chandler Regional was designated as the Southeast Valley’s only Level IIEQ nursery by the Arizona Perinatal Trust, allowing the hospital to care for infants born as early as 28 weeks gestation, and to provide specialty care for defined maternal and neonatal problems.
Since APT’s designation through October 2009, 32 babies between 28 and 31.6 weeks were born at Chandler Regional and five were transferred from other facilities. These babies join the more than 4,400 born at Chandler Regional each year.
“We were concerned at the number of moms and babies who were being separated in those early days of infancy since we know the importance of the bonding that can take place during that time,” said James Zozobrado, M.D., F.A.A.P., the chairman of Chandler Regional’s Department of Pediatrics.
“This is the primary reason we worked so hard to qualify for the upgraded certification – to keep newborns and their moms together, even if the baby needs extra care.”
In addition to securing time for babies and moms to bond, this progression has saved medical costs by preventing the expensive transfer of a pregnant patient or a newborn to a higher acuity medical center.
APT reviewed the data supporting the safety and viability of the hospital’s processes for Nasal Continuous Positive Airway Pressure and Mechanical Ventilation programs, both critical to the early treatment of babies born prematurely.
Chandler Regional obstetricians also provide coverage for at-risk maternal patients, as well as consultation from maternal-fetal medicine specialists. A neonatal nurse practitioner is in-house and a neonatologist is on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
According to the March of Dimes, one out of eight babies is born prematurely, before 37 weeks gestation, and the percentage of premature babies is on the rise. The rate of premature births increased almost 35 percent between 1981 and 2005.
“The level of care we have been able to provide to these families in the past year is priceless,” Zozobrado said.
“We are grateful to those who worked so hard to get us to a place where we could receive this designation, to those moms who have allowed us to care for them and for their babies, and to the excellent team of obstetricians and clinical staff who provide that care. We look forward to a long future of caring for preemies and their moms.”