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Edward Follow-up Clinic for former NICU babies.


Naperville Sun HealthAware column:

Edward offers follow-up care for NICU grads
September 9, 2013

Edward Hospital’s Newborn Developmental Follow-up Clinic, which opened in August, is seeing its first patients: all high-risk babies who recently went home after a stay in the Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

“We’ve always seen the need for follow-up with many of the NICU babies,” says Dr. Bob Covert, medical director of Edward’s NICU and neonatologist, DuPage Neonatology Associates. “In the past, we referred the families to programs in the Chicago area. Now, we’re offering these services right on the Edward campus.”

According to Dr. Covert, certain babies are automatically referred to the Edward clinic or other follow-up programs: those born at or less than 32 weeks or whose birth weight was at or less than 1,500 grams (about 3 pounds, 4 ounces). Other candidates for referral are babies with developmental abnormalities that are identified in the NICU, and those with life-threatening conditions, such as infections.

“The goal is to regularly evaluate the babies’ physical and mental development, and see what we can do, together with the parents, to prevent any long-term delay,” says nurse Jean Hennessey, clinic coordinator.

The clinic team includes board certified neonatologists from DuPage Neonatology Associates; physical and speech therapists; the nurse/clinic coordinator; and when needed, a pediatric dietitian and social worker.

“The focus of the clinic neonatologists is on physical and mental development, but we’re also an extra set of eyes checking on their medical needs between pediatrician appointments,” says Dr. Deanna Duray, who is the clinic’s medical co-director with Dr. Leslie Farolan. Both are neonatologists with DuPage Neonatology Associates. “For example, we might note that the baby needs a change in dosage of their medication for acid reflux, a relatively common problem among these babies.”

Typically the babies will have their first clinic visit about four to six weeks after discharge from the NICU. It’s recommended that the babies are seen again at 3 months, 6 months, 9 months, 12 months, 18 months and 2 years old. Each session runs about an hour.

Physical and speech therapy are also key clinic services. Physical therapists help make sure each child reaches milestones, such as rolling, sitting and crawling in a time frame that’s appropriate.

Some infants also need speech therapy, even though they won’t be talking for a while.

“The speech therapist is a troubleshooter for certain swallowing and feeding problems,” according to Karen Granato, director of rehabilitation services at Edward. “Sometimes the solution is as simple as using a different type of nipple.”

In other cases, the clinic will call in the pediatric dietitian to consult on feeding and growth problems.

“Follow-up programs offer parents a chance to have a comprehensive assessment of their child’s progress, and often, multi-disciplinary support,” Dr. Duray says. “But, we know that scheduling follow-up sessions can feel overwhelming to parents who may already be juggling multiple appointments with sub-specialists. That’s why we thought it would be wonderful to make the follow-up more convenient.”

“I think it’s fantastic that Edward has committed to having this program in-house. The parents will be more likely to complete the recommended follow-up,” Dr. Covert says. “And, families will benefit from a continuing relationship with the health-care team that knows them and their baby.”

For information on the Newborn Developmental Follow-up Clinic, call 630-527-3076.

Learn more about OB/NICU and Rehab services at Edward.




 

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