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Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica Intensifies Emergency Care for Newborns on Westside  

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By Lookout Staff

January 4, 2017 -- In an effort to expand intensive medical care available on the Westside for premature newborns, Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica has joined forces with Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group to operate a unit staffed 24/7 by specialists, officials announced last week.

Saint John’s expanded Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) brings a core of neonatologists to lead the 18-bed Irene Dunne Guild NICU at Saint John’s, representatives of both institutions said.

“Neonatologists will be there at all times, day and night,” said Dr. Steven Chin, a medical director with the Newborn and Infant Critical Care Unit at Children's Hospital Los Angeles.

Chin, who is an assistant clinical professor of pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine, is leading the Saint John’s unit with Dr. Philippe Friedlich, also a CHLA Medical Group neonatologist.

New specialists will collaborate with Saint John’s existing staff of physicians, nurses and therapists, Chin said.

“We’re eager to begin the New Year advancing the level of care for our tiniest patients,” said Dr. Don Larsen, Providence Saint John’s chief medical officer.

“By combining Saint John’s tradition of excellence with the expertise of CHLA Medical Group neonatal specialists, our community will have 24/7 access to this specialized level of care close to home,” he said.

A Santa Monica institution since 1942, Saint John offers a 266-bed hospital and core services that include heart and vascular care, oncology, orthopedics and women’s health, as well as the John Wayne Cancer Institute.

Chin said about 1,500 babies a year are born at Saint John’s.

Providence Saint John’s is already home to the Maria Shriver Nursery, which is staffed by specially trained nurses 24 hours a day, seven days a week and provides care for newborns undergoing routine care, such as health screenings and exams.

Newborns with special medical needs are transferred to the Irene Dunne Guild Level III NICU.

Children’s Hospital Los Angeles and the Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Medical Group and CHLA Medical Group physicians also oversee care in the NICU at Providence Holy Cross in Mission Hills. A similar arrangement at Providence Tarzana Medical Center provides care at the pediatric ICU and inpatient pediatric unit there.

Children's Hospital Los Angeles is home to the Saban Research Institute, one of the largest pediatric research centers in the United States. It also is a leading teaching hospital, affiliated with the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California since 1932.

Preterm birth is defined as a baby born before 37 weeks of pregnancy, according to the Centers for Disease Control. In 2015, preterm birth affected about 1 of every 10 infants born in the United States.

Preterm birth rates decreased from 2007 to 2014, with CDC research showing the decline partially related to a drop in the number of births to teens and young mothers.

More recent data indicate a slight increase in the national preterm birth rate between 2014 and 2015.

In Los Angeles County, 133,160 babies are born a year, 13,982 of them prematurely, according to recent data from the March of Dimes, a national advocacy group for such issues as the health of children.

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