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This piece is presented by Sanford Health.
Having a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit can be an extremely difficult thing for parents. But Sanford Health is ensuring that critically ill newborns have access to the most advanced treatments.
This year, the Sioux Falls-based health system was selected to join the National Institutes of Health’s prestigious Neonatal Research Network as a participating hospital with the network’s University of Iowa Center. The Boekelheide Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, or NICU, at Sanford Children’s Hospital now joins an elite group of 15 sites across the country that have exclusive access to leading-edge clinical trials.
The network brings together the top neonatal facilities in the country in an effort to improve the short- and long-term health of babies. To join the network, hospitals must go through a rigorous screening process. This includes site visits from the National Institutes of Health, which is reviewing everything from the facility and the staff to the physicians and the clinical research team overseeing the trials.
Once accepted into the network, sites begin the collaborative process of moving research forward to improve the care of newborns who are extremely sick. The fastest and safest way to make strides in treatment and care is through the implementation of well-designed, multicenter clinical trials. These studies look for new ways to prevent, detect or treat disease. This can include studies on new medications, new surgical procedures or devices, or any other aspect of health care.
Members of the network work together as a cohesive team to develop and implement these types of trials, which – once approved – will be made available throughout all the sites. Physicians then are able to offer these advanced treatment options to families whose children are receiving care at that site, potentially improving the child’s quality of life or even saving it. Once the trial is complete, data is collected from each site, analyzed and shared. It is this information that is critical in moving care forward for all sick newborns.
“Being part of this network means Sanford is at the table helping build studies and trials that will bring the best care possible to critically ill babies,” explains Dr. Michelle Baack, a Sanford neonatologist and clinical investigator leading Sanford’s Neonatal Research Network site. “The research that will be conducted here will help shape the standard of care for neonatal units across the world.”
After the babies leave the NICU, the long-term effect of their care is also studied thanks to the a follow-up clinic. Led by neonatologist Dr. Laurie Hogden, the Boekelheide NICU’s follow-up clinic helps determine not only how care in the NICU immediately affects infants but also how that care affects their health throughout their lifetime.
Since its creation, the Neonatal Research Network already has conducted several clinical trials and has published more than 275 peer-reviewed papers. For information on the Neonatal Research Network and Sanford Health’s involvement, call 605-328-1368.
As a member of the Neonatal Research Network, Sanford Health will play an integral part in helping improve the treatment and health of critically ill newborns admitted to neonatal intensive care units across the country.