Originally Released: December 1, 1996
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The University of Maryland Medical Center and the Johns Hopkins Children's Center have formed a powerful new joint venture to transport and care for the region's newborns. Both institutions have jointly taken on full responsibility for operating the Maryland Regional Neonatal Transport Program (MRNTP). The program provides transportation of critically ill infants from community hospitals to centers that provide a higher level of specialized care. Previously, 50 percent of the program had been funded by the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), which is a state-run agency. Recently, MIEMSS announced it would discontinue funding as of December 31, 1996. The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins, which shared the remaining cost of the program, will now assume the state's costs and continue the program unchanged.
"We feel this program is of vital importance to the babies in the state of Maryland and it must continue. We are glad that, along with Johns Hopkins, we can continue to offer this service," says Ira H. Gewolb, M.D., head of the Division of Neonatology at the University of Maryland Medical Center and the co-director of the MRNTP program for the University of Maryland.
"We are committed to providing the same high quality service Maryland physicians have relied upon over the past decade," says Christine Gleason, M.D., director of neonatology at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center and co-director of the neonatal transport program for the last six years. "We are thrilled that our institutions have joined together to maintain this exceptional neonatal transport service."
Physicians who need to transport a sick infant simply make one phone call to consult with a pediatrician specializing in newborn care from either the University of Maryland or Johns Hopkins. The ambulance is then sent out with a neonatal transport nurse, who makes sure the infant is stabilized and then transported. The University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins rotate the service on a daily basis. The transport is conducted at no cost to the referring physician or hospital.
The transport program was formed in 1971 as the Regional Intensive Care Unit of Maryland to transport sick infants from community hospitals to more specialized centers. At its inception, most transports were done by air since there was no organized ground transport outside Baltimore City. In 1979, ambulance service was added. Last year the program transported nearly 500 critically ill infants. It costs approximately $900,000 a year to run, excluding helicopter communications costs.
The University of Maryland Medical Center has a 40-bed neonatal intensive care unit that treats approximately 650 babies a year. The Johns Hopkins Children's Center has a 36-bed neonatal intensive care unit and treats approximately 550 babies a year. Both medical centers offer Level IV neonatal services, the highest level of care in the state for sick infants.
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