The Medical Center and Vanderbilt Break Ties

By: Sarah Goebel Email
By: Sarah Goebel Email

A partnership between the Medical Center and Vanderbilt's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit comes to an abrupt end.

The break-up comes as a surprise to many as the partnership isn't even a year-old.

In February we told you about triplets born at the Medical Center for the first time since the 1970's. The delivery was made possible because of the partnership in August of 2006.

The hospital enhanced its ability to care for newborns with conditions such as premature birth, infection and respiratory problems.

Now the Medical Center's NICU is back to where it was before this alliance.

"We're back to what we did for 20 plus years," pediatrician, Dr. Debbie Sowell said.

Doctor Sowell said the Medical Center is currently working to hire Neonatologists and up their staff in the NICU to continue the level of care they provided with Vandebilt's partnership.

"In the meantime we're going to do what we've done in all the years before that neonatology service and that is the Pediatricians will staff our neonatal intensive care unit. We will provide resuscitation for those babies that may need it and also transfer those babies out that may need further services," Dr. Sowell said.

She said Vanderbilt and The Medical Center are disappointed with how slowly this program developed, but the main reason the alliance ended is because of staffing problems.

"They had some of their physicians resign and they could no longer cover their Vanderbilt nurseries and our nursery at the same time," Dr. Sowell said.

Doctor Sowell said there is no reason for expectant mothers to be concerned about these changes and patients will not see a difference in the level of care at the Medical Center.

"The main difference would be that if we had someone come in labor that was very pre-mature, lets say less than 32 or 33 weeks gestation, that might be a reason that we would work harder about getting the mom and baby to a level three center to deliver. A few weeks ago they would have been delivered here," Dr. Sowell said.

In the past several months the Medical Center has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and training to improve their NICU. Dr. Sowell said those upgrades won't go unused.

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