WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. – The Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at St. Mary’s Medical Center was named the 2008 Health Care Heroes Program of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce of the Palm Beaches.
“St. Mary’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is being recognized both for its commitment to healthcare excellence and its compassion for the patients and families it treats,” Davide M. Carbone, Chief Executive Officer, said. “It is a great honor to be recognized for caring for our community’s smallest patients.”
Only two other health care programs were finalists for the award.
In the NICU, where gaining eight ounces is a major milestone and the average length of stay is more than 20 days, “obstacle” and “achievement” become relative terms. The staff at St. Mary’s Medical Center’s Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) has the privilege of caring for nearly 800 of these tiny babies annually; it’s a role that the 145 person NICU team treasures.
NICU Medical Director David Kanter, MD, Neonatology, cites the search for qualified staff as one of the most important factors in maintaining the level of care for which St. Mary’s has become known: when a premature baby’s heart may be no larger than the tip of an adult’s thumb, only the most highly skilled surgeons and caretakers will do.
“St. Mary’s has recruited and retained some of the most skilled NICU healthcare workers in the state,” Joey Bulfin, RN, Chief Nursing Officer, said. “St. Mary’s nurses and physicians bring an average of 20 years of experience in neonatal care. Our team is passionate about what they do and this award is a special recognition of their dedication.”
In addition to hospital-based NICU services, 150 of the smallest, sickest babies from five surrounding counties are transported by the St. Mary’s NICU Transport Team – comprised of a highly skilled team of a neonatologist, nurse and respiratory therapist – to St. Mary’s Medical Center each year via helicopter or ground ambulances. To keep up with this demand, St. Mary’s recently added a second $125K transportation isolette – the incubator in which preemies travel – to its resources, so that no infant will have to wait for Level III care while another is being transported.