World Preemie Day is Friday, November 17 and Northwest Community Healthcare (NCH) is celebrating the fact that it will be able to better care for its high risk neonatal neurology patients through telemedicine technology and its partnership with Ann & Robert Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. NCH is the first hospital in Illinois to utilize telemedicine technology in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
The advanced telemedicine technology enhances the quality of care provided to preemies like Baby Kacie, the smallest preemie ever born at the hospital, by enabling 24-hour access to neonatal neurology services at Lurie Children’s.
“Thanks to generous NCH Foundation donors, advanced telemedicine equipment will enable pediatric neurologists from Lurie Children’s to complete a neurologic assessment of select newborn infants in the NICU at NCH,” said Neonatologist Joel B. Fisher, M.D. “The neonatologists at NCH will then utilize this neurology consult to guide the management of these babies.”
This is the second telemedicine cart to be added to the hospital. The first arrived in the Pediatric Emergency Department in September.
“The goal is to keep pediatric patients in their own community surrounded by family and friends so that they can heal faster,” Katie Bohling, Director, Telehealth Programs at Lurie Children’s, said. “Telemedicine offers a unique opportunity to meet the goal by providing access to Lurie Children’s specialists in real-time.”
Telemedicine technology allows face-to-face interaction between doctors through a monitor with a rotating camera that can zoom in to view patients. Symptoms such as a rash can be viewed as well as diagnostics like X-ray films.
NCH has had a longstanding relationship with Lurie Children’s. Its physicians also provide on-site medical support in the NCH Pediatric Emergency Department. Telemedicine enables more medical sub-specialists such as neurologists, orthopedic surgeons, dermatologists and infectious disease physicians to connect and confer about patients. Lurie Children’s physicians assess and provide consultations that couldn’t otherwise be provided at NCH in a timely fashion, eliminating the need for patients and their families to travel to the Chicago for additional care.
“A major challenge for hospitals through Illinois and the Midwest is the limited access to physicians specializing in neonatal neurology,” said NCH Foundation Executive Director Dave Ungurean. “These sub-specialists provide an additional layer of service for infants experiencing neurological and seizure disorders.”