Plastic baby getting help. A pretend baby is used by members of the medical staff to demonstrate the Delivery Buddy now at GHS Laurens County Memorial Hospital. From left, are: Dr. Joni Coker, ob/gyn; Renea Crase, nursing supervisor of the Women’s Life Center; Dedra Ray, RN, clinical nurse educator; Dr. Michael Stewart, neonatologist at GHS Greenville Memorial Hospital.-- Photo by Larry Franklin

LCMH has first Delivery Buddy in the Southeast

Providing instant access to advanced newborn care
“This enhances the work we already do well here,” Kay Swisher, chief nursing officer at LCMH, said.

There is one Delivery Buddy – a computerized robot that provides advanced medical care to newborns – in the southeast. It’s at Laurens County Memorial Hospital. Delivery Buddy has been online at LCMH since Dec. 1, but hasn’t been needed yet, so hospital staff members have been conducting simulated training. If a newborn at LCMH develops problems, Delivery Buddy – which stays online 24/7 – can provide instant access to a neonatologist at Greenville Health System. The neonatologist or physicians assistant on call at GHS can look at the baby via Delivery Buddy’s camera and the unit can also provide information gathered from a digital stethoscope. Delivery Buddy was unveiled last week at a news conference at LCMH. Jamie Adair, director of marketing, said Delivery Buddy is “great news for our hospital.” The unit provides treatment and care options – unavailable before – that can keep some patients at LCMH rather than being transferred to the much-larger Greenville Memorial Hospital. “We live in a rural area with limited resources,” said Kay Swisher, chief nursing officer at LCMH. “We need to show patients we can take care of their babies. (The parents) want to be sure their babies have the best care. We can keep babies here that we used to transfer.” Dr. Michael Stewart, medical director of the GHS Level 3 NICU, said 10% of all “low-risk” newborns will require intervention. “One percent require extensive resuscitation,” he said. “And that’s for routine deliveries. We can’t predict which kid will have complications. This allows us instant access to additional levels of support.” There were 350 babies born last year at LCMH. Stewart said if 10% of them require intervention – the national statistic he quoted – that’s 35 babies who can be helped by Delivery Buddy’s access to a neonatologist. Neonatology is a hospital-based subspecialty of pediatrics that consists of the care of newborn infants, especially one that is ill or premature. A neonatologist, after completing medical school, has four more years of residency training to become a pediatrician and then an additional three years of training in medical care in newborn intensive care. Delivery Buddy connects the nursing and medical staffs at LCMH instantly to that advanced level of care. “This is forward-thinking for us to have this,” said Dr. Joni Coker, ob/gyn at GHS Carolina Women’s Center near LCMH. “This instant access to a neonatologist is like they are in the room.” Swisher said the technology is not used for a “normal” delivery and it doesn’t require a physician’s order. The nurse in the delivery room can initiate the process and pull up Delivery Buddy. “Laurens County does an incredible job of taking care of babies and moms,” Stewart said. “The advantage of Delivery Buddy – just in case of a worse case – we will be here as a crutch to help out the staff. This is a phenomenal asset.” “This enhances the work we already do well here,” Swisher said. “This is icing on the cake,” Coker added. Dr. Christina Neeley, a pediatrician with Hometown Pediatrics in Clinton, said, in a written statement, “Because the neonatal specialists have real time direct audio and visual access to all of our providers and our patients during the resuscitation of a baby, it allows those professional to become involved in the care…even before or immediately at the time of birth. “Delivery Buddy helps us all work together as a team and provides us valuable communication and feedback,” Neeley said. Delivery Buddy was purchased from InTouch Health for $25,000, said LCMH President Rich D’Alberto. InTouch provides constant IT on the unit to make sure it is always online and available if needed. Kim Skodack, a clinical manager with InTouch, took part in last week’s news conference via Delivery Buddy from Columbia.

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