Baptist Health Paducah marks 100th NICU transport

September 09, 2020

The Baptist Health Paducah NICU transport team marked a milestone

(Paducah, Ky.)  Aug. 14, 2020 The Baptist Health Paducah NICU transport team marked a milestone on Thursday night with its 100th neonatal transport.

Baptist Health Paducah introduced a neonatal transport service in February 2018, which allowed the neonatal transport team to bring infants from outside hospitals to our Level III John and Loree Eckstein NICU.

Edward O’Neill, MD, and Kimberly Shimer, MD, are the neonatologists serving west Kentucky’s only Level III NICU.

“When you’re born in other hospitals around this part of the state, in the western part of Kentucky, there are several hospitals that deliver babies, but do not have the ability to care for infants who need special care,” Dr. O’Neill said. In the past, “all those babies had to be referred farther away from home in Nashville, Louisville and Cape Girardeau. Now, we have the ability to pick up a baby that needs our services.”

A Level III NICU is capable of caring for very small or very sick newborn babies. Level III facilities have a wide variety of specialized staff on site, including neonatologists, neonatal nurse practitioners, neonatal nurses, respiratory therapists, physical, speech and occupational therapists, social services and pastoral care, all who specialize in high-risk neonatal care.

The transport team is no exception. “It is made up of four specialized, trained people.” Dr. O’Neill said. “One is a respiratory therapist who can help run the ventilator. We also bring two nurses. We also bring in a neonatal nurse practitioner. The nurse practitioner is in communication with the attending physician, which is Dr. Shimer or myself, so we are able to help guide in the care that is delivered at their referring hospital.

“What we’re really doing is what we do here at the NICU at Baptist. We are just doing it on the road, so it is extremely important to try to extend that radius of service to other people in the community. Without our NICU, families would have to drive to cities several hours away and miss work during an already stressful time in their lives.”