Logan Anthony Rose looked peaceful in his mother’s arms at Trinity Hospital of Augusta as he enjoyed a post-lunch nap.
“He’s doing a lot better than he was,” said his mother, Army Spc. Amber Rose.
Born a few weeks premature Jan. 11 with some bleeding and other issues, Logan spent his first days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit receiving antibiotics, oxygen and nutritional support.
In years past, his condition would have required him to be transferred down the road to the Level IV NICU at Medical College of Georgia Hospital, but recent
upgrades have allowed Trinity to take on some premature and special-needs babies.
Rose is glad about that.
“If we weren’t in the same hospital, I probably would have been very upset,” she said. “It’s hard enough walking back and forth to the (special care) nursery as many times a day as I did.”
Trinity recently upgraded the services of its six-bed NICU, which will expand to 10 beds soon, under the direction of neonatologist Venkatesan Gorantla.
The hospital had been a Level II at one time before dropping back down, so the increased care is nothing new for the experienced nursing staff, Gorantla said. The move is primarily to keep families together through difficult births.
“(Before), those babies are mostly taken to (MCG) and the mother stays here, so baby and mother are separate,” Gorantla said. “That is a major psychosocial issue for the family.”
Being Level II means the hospital can care for babies born at 32 weeks or older who need more than basic care but not surgery, Gorantla said.
According to standards from the American Academy of Pediatrics, those should also be babies who weigh more than 3 pounds, 5 ounces.
Doctors Hospital also operates a Level II NICU, and University Hospital has a Level III, which can care for babies born at less than 32 weeks who might need subspecialty care such as surgery, according to academy guidelines.
Being Level IV, a recently added designation, means a hospital can provide round-the-clock access to highly complex care and transportation of those cases to the facility, according to the guidelines.
The number of babies needing greater care is increasing in part because of the rising rate of premature babies, which from 1990 to 2010 rose from 10.6 percent to 12 percent of births in the U.S., the academy said; the Institute of Medicine recently said that rate is similar to countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
More than 70 percent of those are “late preterm births,” which Gorantla said are rising in part because of elective cesareans from mothers who get to 37 weeks gestation and want the baby out.
“A lot of babies are delivered sooner than they should be because that magic number of 37 weeks is engraved in the public’s mind,” he said, but that can also mean breathing problems.
“Not everybody’s lungs mature at the same rate,” Gorantla said.
For Rose, being able to stay near the baby helped reduce her stress but didn’t do much for the baby’s father, who is deployed in Afghanistan.
“We talk to Daddy all the time, don’t we?” Rose said to Logan, cradled in her arms. “He was stressing a little bit over there, but now he is OK. He should come back in the next couple of months, so he is not going to miss too much.”