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Published on September 16, 2019

Newborn Emergency Telemedicine places expertise at the fingertips of regional clinicians

Imagine your emergency department is faced with a gravely ill neonate. If you've had this experience before, you know time is of the essence and stress levels are high.

Tony Macasaet, MD, FACEP

Tony Macasaet, MD, FACEP

Now consider the same case with a neonatologist close at hand. Gundersen Health System's NeoNET (Newborn Emergency Telemedicine) program makes this possible for clinicians at regional access hospitals.

Tony Macasaet, MD, FACEP, medical director of Vernon Memorial Healthcare's Emergency Department, experienced the benefits of NeoNET firsthand.

"Using a state-of-the-art video conferencing device, right at the bedside, and interfacing with an expert from Gundersen's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit was an invaluable resource in the care of an unstable infant. It was almost as if the neonatologist was at the bedside with us," describes Dr. Macasaet.

Currently, 13 labor and delivery or emergency departments in the Tri-state Region are equipped with NeoNET. The comprehensive program includes:

  • A telemedicine unit installed at your hospital, with real-time visual and auditory conference capability with a neonatologist—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Even hospitals that don't deliver babies regularly can equip their emergency departments with NeoNET.
  • Continuing education program, including hands-on training at your facility and a job shadow opportunity in our Level 3 NICU
Tara Lang, MD

Tara Lang, MD

Seeing and listening to a baby in real time while consulting with our regional partner physicians has definite advantages, according to Gundersen neonatologist Tara Lang, MD, who worked alongside Dr. Macasaet.

"With a telemedicine unit, we can see and hear the baby with a stethoscope and talk to the referring provider while simultaneously examining the color of the baby, its movement, alertness and any signs of respiratory distress. It helps us make better decisions about whether the baby needs to be transferred or if we can work with the provider to treat the infant where they are—which is ideal," explains Dr. Lang.

If a transfer is necessary, Dr. Lang or one of her partners can stay on the telemedicine screen until the Neonatal Transport Team arrives—helping to stabilize the baby and prepare the transport team for the condition of the infant prior to their arrival.

"In this particular case, we were able to work together as a multidisciplinary team to care for the sickest of patients. I was able to gather critical history in real time from the parents, as well as provide them updates on the baby's clinical status and what to expect upon transfer to Gundersen," notes Dr. Lang.

Although Dr. Macasaet had some reservations about NeoNET and the extra steps it would create during an already complex case, he says the benefits outweighed his concerns.

"Ultimately, because of our readiness and our ability to work as a team in the ED, including bringing high-level expertise (virtually) to the bedside, we were successful in saving the child's life," Dr. Macasaet shares.

For a telephone or NeoNET consult with a neonatologist, or to arrange a transport, call Gundersen's MedLink line at (800) 336-5465. Please note that a consult never mandates transfer to Gundersen.

If you would like to set up NeoNET at your location, contact Gundersen Regional Services and Telemedicine via Jessica Easterday at (608) 775-3031 or Kara Bayer at (608) 775-8712.

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