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Western Baptist to open neonatal care unit
Neonatalist Dr Stewart

(Paducah, Ky.) Aug. 20, 2010 — Western Baptist Hospital soon will open the area’s first Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and Maternal Fetal Medicine Clinic, so more families can stay close to home when expectant moms and babies need specialized care.

             Larry Barton, president and CEO, said the two new medical specialties – maternal fetal medicine and neonatology – allow earlier intervention in high-risk pregnancies and more specialized treatment for newborns. 

“Western Baptist is already western Kentucky ’s premier hospital for obstetrics with about half of the region’s babies born here,” he said. “So it is a natural extension for us to offer an even broader range of services for both mom and baby that allows families to stay together and close to home at this special time in their lives.” 

The new services are expected to be available in early 2011 following the completion of:

  • ·         Western Baptist staff training at Kosair Children’s Hospital, recognized as one of the nation’s top children’s hospitals.
  • ·         Credentialing of new physicians and other staff.
  • ·         Installation of about $300,000 in new equipment, donated by the Western Baptist Hospital Foundation, for the already-licensed six-bed Level II NICU. 

“The foundation is committed to providing quality healthcare to the community,” said Don Walker, foundation board chairman, “whether it’s heart and stroke care or equipment for the NICU.”  

The NICU has been a dream of recently-retired Western Baptist pediatrician Glen Chaney, M.D. “This adds a tremendous advancement to medical care in our area of the country,” Dr. Chaney said.  

Western Baptist administration, pediatricians and obstetricians have worked since 2007 to add the services, he said.

Western Baptist obstetrics/gynecology section chief Pamela Hodges, M.D., who also serves as president-elect of the Kentucky Perinatal Association, said, “This advanced level of care means families and newborn babies will be able to be together in this very trying time.” 

Currently, expectant moms with high-risk pregnancies may be referred to specialists by their local obstetricians, often requiring frequent prenatal visits to Louisville or Nashville. Meanwhile, babies needing intensive care also have been transferred, many times while their mothers and even siblings – in a recent case involving twins – remained hospitalized here. 

The Western Baptist NICU will allow most of those babies to be treated here, with just about 2 percent still expected to need the highest level of care at Kosair Children’s Hospital in Louisville or another highly-specialized unit. 

Neonatologists from Neonatal Associates in Louisville will serve the Paducah hospital. “We’re excited about this relationship with Western Baptist Hospital ,” said neonatologist Dan Stewart, M.D., president of Neonatal Associates. He also is medical director of the NICU at Kosair Children’s Hospital and a U of professor.     

 “We want to keep babies close to their homes, families and primary care physicians when possible,” Dr. Stewart said. “If they need more specialized care, we will use the advanced technologies available at Western Baptist and, if necessary, the babies will be transported to Kosair Children’s Hospital or the hospital of the parent’s choice until they are stabilized and ready to return to the Paducah area.” 

Dr. Stewart’s group of 16 neonatologists – faculty at the University of Louisville’s Department of Pediatrics – and 16 nurse practitioners will provide full coverage at Western Baptist, while they recruit additional staff to locate permanently in Paducah. 

Thomas Tabb, M.D., medical director of maternal fetal medicine for Norton Healthcare/Kosair Children’s Hospital, said his team of specialists – including W. Vance Cuthrell, M.D., Helen H. How, M.D., Kristine Lain, M.D., and Whitney Jamie, M.D. – will visit here regularly for high-risk pregnancy care, as well as monitor patients in Paducah from Louisville via live-streaming video.  

“It’s been a goal of Norton Healthcare to be able to extend the services of Kosair Children’s Hospital, as well as the services of Norton Maternal Fetal Medicine Specialists, to this part of the state,” said Dr. Tabb.  “This partnership will allow us to meet that goal and ensures that we are providing the highest level of care possible to mothers and their infants in this region who previously would have been required to travel long distances to receive care.” 

Neonatology is the subspecialty of pediatrics that includes the medical care of newborns requiring specialized treatment for conditions such as premature birth or low birth weight. Kentucky’s rate of prematurity is 15.1 percent, compared to 12.8 percent for the nation. 


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