Teams of doctors and nurses from Lodi Adventist Health and UC Davis Medical Center worked together to administer emergency care to neonatal patients on Tuesday afternoon.

One patient was a mother who had just given birth to a full-term baby, but she developed an infection due to rupturing membranes, putting the baby at risk for infection.

The other patient was a premature baby born at 24 weeks, 16 weeks earlier than expected.

While the scenarios that played out are not uncommon, Tuesday’s emergencies were just a mock drill, part of an effort to test virtual patient care capabilities between the two hospitals that recently expanded a partnership that brings the specialty care of UC Davis directly to patients at the Lodi hospital.

The partnership expands the pediatric and neonatal care services available to patients, bringing UC Davis physicians and nurses directly into the Lodi hospital. The deal also establishes a 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week instant connection to the UC Davis Medical Center's dedicated pediatric emergency department.

“UC Davis is really excited about this partnership with Lodi Memorial Hospital,” said Dr. Vaneet Kalra, medical director of the Level II NICU at Lodi Memorial and neonatologist at UC Davis. “It will serve both purposes of UC Davis Hospital, which is to spread the knowledge and provide excellent patient care closer to home, so the babies and the mothers don’t have to be separated, and the families don’t have to travel far to get appropriate care.”

Overall, Kalra felt that Tuesday’s drill went smoothly and there was good coordination between the nursing team and the physicians. He hopes the drill will enhance team work and give staff the training they need to improve the outcomes of sick babies delivered at Lodi Memorial. Without the practice, Kalra said the staff wouldn’t have the necessary skills needed to administer emergency care, forcing patients to be sent to other nearby hospitals for treatment.

“Our goal here is to try to build up a Level 2 where Lodi becomes comfortable in managing these patients and a big component of that is to make sure they feel comfortable resuscitating babies that are smaller than term gestation,” said Dr. Payam Vali, a UC Davis neonatologist. “This was an example of how we intend to go forward in providing these mock codes on the monthly basis to familiarize the nurses and physicians if the occasion arises where this needs to be done in real life.”

Kalra agreed.

“We will continue to do these trainings because the more you do, the better your are,” he said. “In terms of developing the NICU here gradually the Lodi hospital will be keeping smaller babies. They will be keeping the babies born as early as two months in the next year or so, and for that I think the nursing staff and physicians here need more practice and more training.”

Other physicians also felt the drill went well and found it very helpful.

“It was good communications between the delivery team and the team taking care of the baby,” said Dr. Param Gill, obstetrician and gynecologist at Lodi Memorial. “We gave them all the information that they needed in order to take this very premature baby that would usually transfer out of here, but now we’re able to stabilize them and keep some of these premature babies here at Lodi.”

Gill said she learned the importance of a coordinated effort, and that the first few minutes after birth are crucial for positive outcomes for babies.

Dr. Michelle Hamline, pediatric hospitalist for UC Davis and medical director for pediatrics at Lodi Memorial, also felt that the drill was a success.

“We’ve done similar training up at UC Davis but it was really nice to get the experience here at Lodi Memorial using their equipment and really being able to get some hands-on experience,” Hamline said.

Dr. Jihey Yuk, pediatric hospitalist with UC Davis, felt the training was helpful in terms of going through some of the more critical cases.

“We were able to practice team work with our nursing staff, so that was helpful. And kind of going through the telemedicine was helpful as well because I personally have not run a code here yet, so it was good in terms of preparing me,” Yuk said.

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