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6 | Health Matters: Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in their home community," Dr. Gall explains. In addition, Providence Saint Joseph offers transport services from local community NICUs to the Saint Joseph NICU. The transporter is a mini NICU, complete with incubator, cardiac monitors, mechanical ventilator, body-cooling equipment and nitric oxide—and it can be loaded right onto an ambulance. A neonatal transport team from Providence Saint Joseph accompanies each baby during the transport. The composition of the transport team, which may include NICU nurses, respiratory therapists, neonatal nurse practitioners and neonatologists, depends on the clinical status of the infant. EARLY ARRIVALS Carrying twins or triplets has always been associated with increased risks to the mother and infants, including premature labor. If you deliver at Providence Saint Joseph and you go into early labor, the medical team tries to extend your pregnancy for as long as possible. But when a baby is born early, the NICU team takes over. "We can take care of babies born as early as 23 weeks' gestation," says Dr. Gall. "We have a well-trained team that has been working together a long time, and we have the most modern equipment available." Every aspect of the babies' health is monitored, including, of course, nutrition. If a new mother is not able to produce enough breast milk, the NICU can provide donor breast milk. "Breast milk is the preferred nutrition for all infants, especially premature babies," says Dr. Gall. In addition, physical therapists help babies learn to eat, and lactation consultants help moms and babies to begin breastfeeding. When mothers can't be in the NICU, they can see their babies 24/7 by way of a video camera above the incubator. Parents love to be able to log on and view their babies at home and share the experience with family and friends. CRITICAL TREATMENTS Babies in the NICU are tiny and vulnerable. But luckily, Providence Saint Joseph is able to provide two critical treatments to help them thrive: body cooling with continuous EEG monitoring and the use of inhaled nitric oxide. "Body cooling and continuous EEG monitoring are used when there is a complication in the final moments of delivery, leading to a lack of oxygen to the infant, with the potential of a serious and lifelong brain injury," explains Dr. Gall. Body cooling decreases the infant's core body temperature, reducing the chance of brain cell injury and death. The continuous EEG monitor provides a real-time evaluation of the infant's brain's electrical activity and ensures the body cooling is effective. Inhaled nitric oxide is used for infants with respiratory distress syndrome. This naturally occurring gas allows the vessels in the lungs to relax so that blood can flow normally through the lungs. HOSPITALISTS: 24/7 CARE If you go into labor at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center, you don't have to worry if your doctor is with patients at their office or if it is the middle of the night as contractions intensify. Here, obstetrician-gynecologists are ready to care for women and their newborns 24/7 to ensure the best possible birth outcome. Providence Saint Joseph is fortunate to have laborists on our staff—doctors who work only in the hospital providing obstetrical services. "Most of our moms are low-risk; however, we do have high-risk patients with obstetrical emergencies," says Kudzai Dombo, MD, an OB-GYN and laborist. "This morning I was in surgery, finishing a C-section, when I got the alert that a woman was arriving who had delivered in the ambulance," she says. Mother and baby— and a relieved father—are fine, she adds. The entire care team works collaboratively to provide the best experience and clinical outcome for Providence Saint Joseph's patients. "The nurses here are amazing," says Dr. Dombo. "They spend the majority of their time with patients—it's a very personal experience. They advocate for patients and always make sure our plan of care is in the patient's best interest. Providence Saint Joseph is proud to achieve the standards set by the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) and the California Maternal Quality Care Collaborative (CMQCC). "It's a team effort," says Dr. Dombo of the doctors and nurses. David was tiny when he was born. Now he weighs 9 pounds and is thriving.

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