By Wendy Grafius, contributing writer
UC Davis Children’s Hospital plans to use grant to expand telehealth services to nursery clinicians at rural hospitals, study long-term impact on neonatal outcomes
UC Davis Children’s Hospital of Sacramento has received a grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for the Advancement of Telehealth – Health Resources and Services Administration (OAT-HRSA) which will be used for the new Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using Telehealth (PEANUT) program. Approximately $750,000 over a three-year period will be disbursed to the nationally ranked hospital for the expansion of its telehealth services to nursery clinicians at rural hospitals and to study the program’s long-term impact on neonatal outcomes.
UC Davis Medical Center, which houses its center of excellence – UC Davis Children’s Hospital – is a pioneer in telehealth programs, providing academic specialty and subspecialty access to hospitals in rural communities. Four hospitals in rural counties with a shortage of health professionals, particularly in pediatric subspecialist areas, were selected to participate in the PEANUT program. The use of UC Davis’ award-winning videoconferencing will give those clinicians access to neonatologists, pediatric cardiologists, and other specialists for guidance in an attempt to address rural disparities in newborn care.
“Rural doctors and hospitals deliver great care. But they have limited access to pediatric subspecialists,” said Madan Dharmar, assistant research professor in the UC Davis Children’s Hospital pediatric telemedicine program and principal investigator for the PEANUT program. “Without subspecialty guidance, newborn infants may be undertreated, receive inappropriate therapies, or face unnecessary transfers. By providing immediate access to neonatologists and other pediatric experts, PEANUT will provide a safety net for rural clinicians and their patients.”
Education will also be a major component of the PEANUT program. Technicians at the four rural hospitals will be trained in techniques for newborn emergency care and will receive help in implementing new care standards that are required at the state and national level, such as the Critical Congenital Heart Disease Screening Program for neonatal echocardiograms. Ruling out congenital heart defects can eliminate neonatal transfers, while properly identifying them will allow appropriate treatment. “We view this program as an important step in delivering high-quality and cost-effective care throughout California,” said Robin Steinhorn, UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s physician-in-chief, pediatric department chair, and grant co-investigator.
Part of the UC Davis Health System, 619-bed UC Davis Medical Center is the Sacramento region’s only academic health center, and is a “Most Wired” hospital, a Leapfrog Group “Top Hospital”, and ranked Sacramento’s top hospital by U.S. News & World Report. UC Davis Children’s Hospital boasts more than 120 physicians in 33 pediatric subspecialties serving infants, children, adolescents, and young adults with primary, subspecialty, and critical care. A total 129 beds include 36 general, 49 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), and 24 Pediatric Intensive Care Unit/Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (PICU/PCICU). In addition, the hospital provides the Central Valley’s only Level 1 pediatric trauma center and pediatric emergency department.
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