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Published on February 26, 2019

Newborn Emergency Telemedicine (NeoNET) puts specialty care at the fingertips of regional providers

Doctors who deliver premature or critically ill babies in the region don't have Neonatal Intensive Care Units on site. It can be especially stressful without the expertise of a neonatologist close at hand.

Using Gundersen Health System's NeoNET (Newborn Emergency Telemedicine) program, 13 area labor and delivery or emergency departments are now equipped and better prepared to care for premature or critically ill newborns.

NeoNET provides hospitals with live video consultation of Gundersen's neonatologists in its Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The service is available to all regional access hospitals. Even hospitals that don't deliver babies regularly can equip their emergency departments with NeoNET.

The comprehensive NeoNET 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
  • Continuing education program, including hands-on training at your facility and a job shadow opportunity in our Level 3 NICU

Of course, even without a NeoNET program, regional providers can call and speak to a neonatologist at any time, or request ground or air transport by the Neonatal Transport Team using the MedLink line (800) 336-5465.

Kate Moen, MD, FAAP

Kate Moen, MD, FAAP

Being able to see and listen to a baby in real time, while consulting with our regional partner physicians, has definite advantages, according to Gundersen neonatologist and medical director Kate Moen, MD, FAAP.

"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. It is a win-win for everyone," explains Dr. Moen.

NeoNET was not established to encourage the transfer of babies to Gundersen's NICU. In fact, we know it is best to have mom and baby stay in their hometown hospital.

"A telemedicine consult provides families with access to a neonatologist who can help work collaboratively with the provider to try to minimize transfers. A consult never mandates transfer to Gundersen Health System," notes Jessica Easterday, BSN, RN, program manager of Gundersen Telemedicine.

"I think one of the underappreciated advantages of using NeoNET is the ability to include parents and family in the consultation," notes Dr. Moen.

It allows the parents to meet the neonatologist, participate in their baby's care and ease some of their anxieties if their baby is transported to La Crosse.

When a transfer is necessary, Dr. Moen or one of her partners Ngozi Nduka, MD, or Tara Lang, MD, can stay on the telemedicine screen until the Neonatal Transport Team gets there. It is like having the neonatologist in the delivery room. The neonatologist uses this time to guide doctors in using CPAP, intubating patients, doing procedures, providing IV fluids, looking at X-rays, evaluating lab tests, giving advice about IV medication and providing updates to the transport team about the condition of the infant prior to their arrival. In the best scenario, the baby can be stabilized and won't need to be transferred.

For a telephone or NeoNET consult with a neonatologist, or to arrange a transport, call Gundersen's MedLink line at (800) 336-5465.

If don't already have telemedicine and want to set up a program, contact Jessica Easterday at (608) 775-3031 or Kara Bayer, regional services representative, Regional Services and Telemedicine, at (608) 775-8712.

NeoNET training opportunities

Gundersen's NeoNET (Neonatal Emergency Telemedicine) program gives regional care providers (family practice doctors, pediatricians, nurse midwives) emergency additional tools, training opportunities and a higher level of consultation to get newborns the care they may need. Training often covers higher acuity but lower volume patients and procedures, such as:

  • Respiratory support of the newborn with breathing difficulties
  • Care of the premature infant
  • Procedures such as intubation, umbilical vein catheter placement, chest tube placement and others
  • Mock code scenarios

Training sessions are tailored to meet the needs of you and your staff.

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