When a high-risk infant is born at Wayne Memorial Hospital, staff will now have instant access to neonatal intensive care specialists at Lehigh Valley Hospital via advanced tele-medicine equipment, funded in part by a grant from the USDA Rural Utilities Services’ Distance Learning and Telemedicine program.
The audio-visual connection will allow Lehigh doctors to examine the infant in real time and assess treatment and the need, if any, for transfer.
“This is a wonderful addition to our hospital and our community,” said James Pettinato, director patient care services. “In cases where a birth is predictably high risk, the mother usually delivers in a hospital with a neonatal intensive care unit on site. But many births are not predictable, and we are now in a better position to treat the baby when it’s born.”
Medical conditions that might warrant use of the tele-neonatology unit include prematurity, low birth weight, intrauterine growth restriction, congenital malformations (birth defects), sepsis, pulmonary hypoplasia and birth asphyxias.
Wayne Memorial’s New Beginnings birthing suites sees about 500 births a year. Clinical coordinators Mary Beth Dastalfo and Janice Pettinato are thrilled to have the tele-neonatology.
“There are very few rural community hospitals such as ours lucky enough to have this kind of resource,” said Pettinato. “We are truly thankful to Lehigh for working with us to set this up.”