When Northside Hospital-Forsyth opened its Women’s Center in 2008, the facility was capable of handling most levels of care for pregnant women and their newborn babies.
There was, however, a gap in services, as babies requiring the highest level of care had to go to the hospital’s Atlanta campus. Between 2008 and ’13, more than 60 were transferred there.
That arrangement changed late last year when the Georgia Department of Community Health granted the Forsyth center’s request to open a Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit for babies born before 32 weeks gestation and at weights of less than 3.4 pounds.
“We’re very proud of the success our Women’s Center has seen over the last five years and that so many families have chosen to deliver their babies at Northside Hospital-Forsyth,” said Lynn Jackson, hospital administrator.
“This new designation allows us to provide the highest level of care to some of our most complex and high-risk babies here at home, where their families are close by.”
Melissa Sugg, center manager, noted that the Women’s Center is “staffed with experienced neonatal intensive care nurses, perinatalogists, neonatologists and several pediatric specialists in cardiology, gastroenterology and ophthalmology.
“Our specialized team of caregivers couldn’t be happier to finally be able to provide the highest level and quality of care for our community’s most vulnerable patients,” she said.
The Forsyth center has four Level III beds that were added to the existing 17-bed unit. While the equipment is new, the staff is experienced, said Forsyth campus CEO Skip Putnam.
The Atlanta campus has one of the largest Level III NICUs in the country, yet many of the nurses, physicians and clinical staff working in Forsyth “were part of that successful program before bringing their knowledge and expertise [here],” Putnam said.
He went on to note that the staff is “committed to providing the highest level of care and support for all newborns. This new Level-III designation enables us to give them the very best chance at life and one with fewer long-term complications.”