That's exciting news for the Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit team at Ascension Via Christi St. Joseph in Wichita, which for the past five years has been under the medical direction of Children's Mercy neonatologists.
"Working with a nationally recognized group of neonatologists has allowed us to ensure that critically ill newborns and premature infants are the best possible care in the best possible place: Close to home and their loved ones," says Laurie Labarca, the hospital president who serves as the executive leader of Women's and Children's Services at Ascension Via Christi. "Should a baby need the higher level of care offered by a Level 4 NICU, we have an established line of communication to help facilitate that transition."
A hospital's Neonatology US News & World report ranking is based on various measures of clinical care. Eighty-seven percent of each hospital's score comes from data collected through a detailed clinical survey of children's hospitals, such as neonatal growth, prevention of infections, availability of ECMO, specialized staff, and patient volume. The remaining percent reflects the expert opinion of pediatric specialists and subspecialists who responded to surveys in 2020, 2021 and 2022 and recommended the hospital for care of newborns.
The St. Joseph NewLife Center's Level III NICU is staffed and equipped to care for up to 29 infants. Children’s Mercy neonatologist Steven Olsen, MD, is the unit's medical director. In July, his colleague Mahdi Alsaleem, MD, who has served in the unit for the past three years, will assume that role.
"The exceptional prenatal care provided by our admitting OB/GYNs and high-risk maternal-fetal medicine specialist helps reduce the number of babies who require care in our NICU," says Robyn Chadwick, St. Joseph hospital president, noting that. "But when a critically ill newborn needs that level of care, our team is there providing compassionate, personalized care to each baby and their family."