In January, North Memorial Health began a partnership with Minnesota Neonatal Physicians, ensuring that all babies in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at Maple Grove Hospital have access to immediate, round-the-clock support and expert medical care. We spoke with their medical director, Dr. Jeanne Mrozek, to learn how they give those babies healthy, happy outcomes.
Q: Can you tell us about Minnesota Neonatal Physicians and the care your team provides?
A: Minnesota Neonatal Physicians is a private-practice physician group that formed in 1981. We take care of babies who become sick after birth as well as those who are born prematurely. We are one of the original medical groups that participated in the first pediatric trial of medication specifically designed for neonatal patients. That medication ended up revolutionizing the care and survival of premature babies.
We provide medical care for premature babies born as early as 23 weeks gestation at North Memorial Health Hospital and 26 weeks gestation at Maple Grove Hospital. We deal with a long list of complications, but, in general, that list includes prematurity, infections, birth injury, congenital anomalies and neonatal abstinence syndrome.
Q: Why did you choose this line of work?
A: I was struck by two things: the profound relationship you develop with families at a very meaningful time in their lives, and the fact that the vast majority of these babies — even though they’re initially critically ill — improve and grow up to live meaningful lives. It’s the intimacy of the relationships that attracts me the most.
Q: Speaking of that relationship, who is the care team involved and what's their connection like with the families?
A: There’s a huge multidisciplinary team that takes care of every single baby in the Maple Grove Hospital NICU, from neonatal physicians to respiratory therapists, nurses, speech therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and many more. We interact in a very functional way that’s often not replicated in other areas of the hospital. There’s an appreciation for the fact that everyone has a role to play in getting each baby to its optimal level of health and development.
Q: What differentiates Minnesota Neonatal Physicians from other NICU care?
A: Our bedside attendance. We endorse being present at the bedside of our sick babies and believe that requires an in-house hospital presence. That’s a growing trend across the United States, but it’s by no means the standard, even in the Twin Cities.
Q: For babies who need NICU care, would you say most parents are aware that’s a possibility during pregnancy?
A: No, I think that’s the minority. The expectation during pregnancy is typically the birth of a healthy child. I think we could do a better job of setting expectations of parents whose babies are born in late preterm (34 to 36 weeks). The last five to six weeks of gestation are critical for brain development and growth. So, while late preterm babies may be medically healthy, they’re not developmentally mature enough to go home and are at very high risk for readmission and other long-term problems if that time period isn’t handled appropriately.
We offer prenatal consultations for high-risk pregnancies, where we meet with families who have to deliver early or whose baby is anticipated to have medical issues after birth. We’ll discuss the anticipated course for their baby after it’s born, giving the parents more time to process and start to cope.
Q: What are the advantages of partnering with the North Memorial Health System?
A: We can offer families who live in the northwest metro access to get terrific medical care — and a sophisticated NICU. We’re also developing a newborn intensive care follow-up clinic to help care for these babies after they go home.
For customers expecting to deliver a healthy baby, Maple Grove Hospital and North Memorial Health Hospital are both amazing places to be. But it’s also an amazing place to be if your baby is anticipated to have any problems.