About the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine

Clinicians in the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine care for some of North Carolina's smallest, most fragile patients in N.C. Children Hospital’s Level IV Newborn Critical Care Center, which is a referral center for more than 800 newborns from more than 50 N.C. counties each year.

Members of the Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine provide comprehensive clinical care to newborns with complex medical problems from across the state of North Carolina, educate the next generation of medical students, residents, fellows and nurse practitioners, and conduct high-quality clinical research to improve the lives of newborn babies both here and around the world.

The division is comprised of more than 30 physician and nurse practitioner faculty, a clinical research group, and a multi-disciplinary team dedicated to quality improvement across the state. Many members of the division hold leadership roles at the state and national level as well as throughout the UNC Health Care System.

The Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine cares for the some of the state's most critically ill newborns. Centers and Programs

Our 58-bed Newborn Critical Care Center (NCCC), led by medical director Karen Wood, MD, serves as a referral center for newborns from more than 50 counties in North Carolina. The NCCC was recently recognized in the U.S. News & World Report’s 2013-2014 "America's Best Children’s Hospitals" rankings with an overall ranking of 28th (5th in rank among the 10 southeastern states).

The NCCC admits approximately 800 infants each year, clinicians treating a broad spectrum of neonatal problems, including prematurity, congenital heart disease, respiratory disease, infections and other disorders requiring major surgical procedures or multi-disciplinary subspecialty services.

Many families receive care from our neonatologists before birth through referral to the UNC Center for Maternal and Infant Health (CMIH). CMIH coordinates treatments for a wide variety of health problems for the expectant mother and infant such as spina bifida, heart defects, infants with high-risk medical conditions and fetal anomalies. The center offers individualized, comprehensive maternal and infant health services to fulfill each patient’s needs. This includes a care coordinator for each patient and team conferences to discuss medical findings, develop a treatment plan, and provide a prognosis.

Selected high-risk infants receive specialized care after discharge in the Special Infant Care Clinic (SICC), led by Diane Warner, MD, and Janice Wereszczak, MSN, PNP. Emphasis is placed on developmental evaluation and intervention programs for infants with developmental delays or those at risk for delays. The clinic team includes physicians, nursing staff, social workers, physical therapists, speech pathologists and nutritionists.

Scholarly Activities and Research

The Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine collaborates with other departments and centers across the University of North Carolina, other Children’s Hospitals across the nation, and healthcare workers in low-resource countries.

Research

As a member of the NIH-funded NICHD Neonatal Research Network, the division is part of a consortium of 18 hospitals to design and conduct multi-center clinical trials and observational studies in neonatal medicine. Among the areas addressed by the Neonatal Research Network are therapies for sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage, chronic lung disease and pulmonary hypertension, as well as studies of the impact of drug exposure on child and family outcomes.

Our faculty members also collaborate with, and have leadership positions within, the Pediatric Trials Network ( Matthew Laughon, MD, MPH), the ELGAN Research Study consortium ( Diane Warner, MD, MPH), the NOVI Study group (Julie Hofheimer, MD) and with individual investigators outside the department ( Sigal Peter-Wohl, MD and Sofia Aliaga, MD, MPH, FAAP). This broad-based clinical research effort is led by the Director of Neonatal Clinical Research, Janice Bernhardt, MS, RN, and a team of study nurses who direct the 14 studies currently active in the NCCC.

Quality Improvement

The Perinatal Quality Collaborative of North Carolina (PQCNC), led by Martin McCaffrey, MD, is a statewide community of organizations, agencies and individuals committed to making North Carolina the best place to be born. PQCNC uses the expertise of families and front line health care providers, together with quality improvement science to improve outcomes for babies and mothers.

International Work

The NICHD Global Network for Women’s and Children’s Health Research is a partnership committed to improving maternal and infant health outcomes and building health research capacity in resource-poor settings by testing cost-effective, sustainable interventions.

The Global Network consists of seven multidisciplinary research units around the world, each comprising a partnership between a research institution in a developing nation and one in the United States. Carl Bose, MD, and Melissa Bauserman, MD, MPH, lead the UNC partnership with the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Dr. Bose is the lead editor for the Helping Babies Survive Program, which uses a simplified, low fidelity educational program to prepare providers in resource limited settings to deliver essential newborn care. This program was recently featured in AAP News.

Cyril Engmann, MD, shares time between his role as a neonatologist in the NCCC and his role as senior program officer for Neonatal Health at the Gates Foundation. In that capacity, he uses his extensive experience in global health to direct programs to improve the health of newborns throughout the world.

Education

The Department of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill offers a broad-based fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine, providing both clinical and research training with the goal of preparing trainees for careers in neonatal-perinatal medicine. Our graduates are capable of applying their academic skills to scholarly investigation both in academic medicine and community practice.

 

Special thanks to Wayne Price, MD, for submitting this article.

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