NICU nurses provide round-the-clock medical attention for newborns at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport.
NICU nurses provide round-the-clock medical attention for newborns at Memorial Hospital in Gulfport.
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UMMC to manage Gulfport's Memorial Hospital NICU

Published on Monday, February 5, 2018

By: Annie Oeth

The University of Mississippi Medical Center is teaming up with Memorial Hospital at Gulfport to provide the best quality care for the region’s smallest and sickest newborns.

UMMC will manage Memorial’s neonatal intensive care unit, the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s only Level III NICU. Offering around-the-clock care to newborns with special needs, the recently updated unit has 11 semi-private rooms with 23 NICU beds where critically ill or premature infants receive advanced levels of treatment.

UMMC’s main campus in Jackson is home to the state’s only Level IV NICU, the highest level. Management by UMMC through Children’s of Mississippi, the umbrella organization that includes Batson Children’s Hospital and all UMMC pediatric care, will benefit both the Medical Center and Memorial, leaders from both institutions say.

Memorial Hospital in Gulfport
Memorial Hospital in Gulfport

Collaboration will enhance the care in both locations, as medical experts will be able to work together to provide the best care.

“For more than 20 years, Memorial NICU has served Coast families. Our recent expansion and this new alignment allows us to continue to bring more specialized care to our tiniest patients,” said Gary G. Marchand, Memorial Hospital president and CEO.

“Children’s of Mississippi’s vision is to help all children in the state reach their full potential,” said Guy Giesecke, CEO of Children’s of Mississippi. “By working together, sharing insights and discovering improvements to care, Memorial and Children’s of Mississippi can give these babies the best start possible.”

In 2016, Children’s of Mississippi expanded its presence in the Gulf Coast region by opening a specialty clinic in Biloxi. Pediatric specialists in blood disorders, cancer, behavioral health, cardiology, neurology, orthopaedics and surgery all offer expert care close to home.

Having these specialists close to the Memorial NICU will put specialty care minutes away from babies in need of critical care. These specialists can provide a connection to care at Batson Children’s Hospital for these children and their families.

Though the teams will be separated by about 160 miles, each morning they will come together via video conference to participate in the same morning safety meetings, said Fran Malenzi, director of Newborn Services at Children’s of Mississippi.

“We will all be members of one team,” she said, “with one goal: providing the best care.”

“Collaborating to offer children and families life-saving care close to home is at the heart of our mission,” said Dr. Mary Taylor, Suzan B. Thames chair, professor and chair of pediatrics at UMMC. “Medical professionals at Memorial and at Children’s of Mississippi have the same devotion to their patients and to their calling, and we are excited about this opportunity to work together.”

Mississippi’s high rate of premature and low-weight births makes this partnership a key to improving the health of the state’s children, said Dr. Renate Savich, professor and chief of the Division of Neonatology and Newborn Services at UMMC.

In addition to pediatric specialty care, maternal-fetal medicine is also offered at the Children’s of Mississippi Biloxi clinic. Through the care of Dr. Tony Wen, Gulf Coast mothers can receive care close to home, and babies with health risks can get specialty care before and at birth.

“The earlier care can be provided, the better the child’s start in life,” Savich said. “The combined efforts of UMMC and Memorial are focused on bringing that care to families in the region.”