Hospital cuts won’t hurt patient care

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 25, 1999

The loss of Natchez Regional Medical Center’s Level II nursery should not impact patient care, according to local health care professionals.

&uot;The hospital will maintain the personnel and equipment to care for sick babies,&uot; said Dr. Brian Stretch, Natchez pediatrician. &uot;They just won’t maintain two registered nurses in a Level II nursery 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.&uot;

Stretch said nurses will be shifted to post partum floors when there aren’t babies in the nursery requiring Level II care.

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&uot;This change should not impact my practice at all,&uot; he said. &uot;I will continue to provide the same level of care I have always provided.&uot;

Melanie Harveston, director of the nursery at NRMC said she will simply shift nurses to the maternity floor within the same hospital unit.

&uot;They will work there on the floor, if we need two nurses immediately, we can pull them from there so that the people trained to deliver the level II care will still do that,&uot; Harveston said.

Obstetrician Dr. Frank Guedon said he didn’t think the change in the nursery would affect most patients.

&uot;The bottom line is that whenever we have a baby that’s a preemie we end up shipping them to Jackson anyway,&uot; he said.

The hospital will still have a full nursery just not one with the designation of Level II.

Nurseries are assigned various &uot;levels&uot; according to perinatal guidelines, Harveston said.

She said Level I means basic nursery services, labor and delivery services, minor obstetrics care, etc.

&uot;Level I is basic nursery services, labor and delivery services, minor obstetrics care and taking care of well babies, assessing vitals, routine feeding and parental education,&uot; Harveston said.

&uot;In Level II care, you take care of all Level I services and you do high risk care, mothers that are pre-eclamptic, mothers prone to premature labor, deliver babies 2500 grams (roughly 2.5 lbs) or more, 7 months and up, provide ultrasound during the pregnancy, ventilator support, insertion of intravenous lines, oxygen and antibiotic support, and 24 hour monitoring.&uot;

Harveston said all Level II&160;services will still be available at NRMC after staffing reductions.

&uot;We have four level III nursery nurses – myself and three others. We worked in universities in south Louisiana. We worked in level III tertiary care centers with micropreemies – those that weigh 2,500 grams or less at birth,&uot; she said.

&uot;Our level of care will not change, just the physical positioning of nursery nurses,&uot; Harveston said.

The number of babies born at NRMC has dropped slightly since 1993, according to records from the Mississippi Department of Health’s Bureau of Public Health Statistics in Jackson.

According to birth records from 1993-1997, in that time period Natchez Community Hospital delivered 52 percent of Adams County babies while NRMC delivered 41 percent of county babies. The remaining seven percent of babies were split among 12 other hospitals, each getting less than one percent of total Adams County births.