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Dr. Bear Comes to Virginia Hospital Center

HealthReach, Fall 2012 | Page 1

Children's National Medical CenterVirginia Hospital Center and Children’s National Medical Center have joined together to provide even more advanced medical care to the tiniest of patients treated in Virginia Hospital Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). As a result of this collaboration, the Children’s National neonatology team of physicians is now managing Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU. The neonatology team at Children’s National was recently ranked sixth in the country by U.S. News & World Report.

Approximately 10 percent of babies born at Virginia Hospital Center require NICU care. Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU is a Level IIIB, as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), and can care for babies at and above 24 weeks gestational age. The Children’s National Medical Center’s NICU in Washington, DC is a Level IIIC, which is AAP’s highest designation. It offers critically ill babies very specialized care. Babies seen and treated in Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU who require surgery are transferred to a medical facility with pediatric surgical specialists and/or subspecialists that best fit the needs of the patient and family.

“We are thrilled to be joining forces with a world-class organization such as Children’s National Medical Center,” says Jeffrey DiLisi, MD, Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Virginia Hospital Center. “The direction and oversight that Children’s National will provide adds even greater depth to the outstanding neonatology program that the Arlington Neonatology Group established here more than 10 years ago. Our patients will continue to receive the best care with even more advanced medical services and resources available through Children’s National.”

Billie Lou Short, MD
Billie Lou Short, MD

Children’s National will provide clinical services and operations/administrative management of the NICU, including direct patient care and medical record management. Billie Lou Short, MD, Division Chief, Neonatology, at Children’s National, has been named Medical Director of Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU. She and her Children’s National team will oversee management of the unit’s daily activities.

“Arrangements like this make it possible for families to get expert care closer to home,” said David Wessel, MD, Senior Vice President, Hospital-Based Specialties, Children’s National. “We are pleased to work with Virginia Hospital Center to enhance care for their patients and families.”

One of the many benefits of the agreement is that it offers northern Virginia access to the highest level of neonatal care right here in the community. Families with babies in a NICU usually spend a great deal of time there; if they have older children, driving back and forth between the hospital and their home can be very tiring. The shorter the distance, the better it is for the entire family.

As the father of a newborn, himself, Dr. DiLisi says this means a lot to him.

“Certainly, there’s an extra degree of comfort knowing the Children’s National mascot, Dr. Bear, is on the door,” he says. “You want the best for your baby; if there are any problems, you have access to the best neonatologists. Children’s is a national leader. It’s a great advantage to have their doctors here treating our NICU patients.”


Most babies never need care in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). But all parents-to-be want to know that the hospital where their baby will be born will have the most experienced doctors and the most advanced technology should the need arise. HealthReach talked to Billie Lou Short, MD, Division Chief, Neonatology, at Children’s National, for an explanation of the different levels of NICUs and what the new partnership with Virginia Hospital Center means to parents of our smallest patients.

NICUs are rated at different levels, as designated by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Virginia Hospital Center has a Level IIIB NICU and can care for babies born at 24 weeks of gestation and older. It offers highly advanced technology, including oscillators, which are high-frequency ventilators for babies having trouble breathing on their own.

Children’s National’s NICU is a Level IIIC, the highest level designated by the AAP. It offers highly specialized care for babies, including advanced cardiology care for infants with serious heart problems, neonatal neurological monitoring and care by a designated team of neurologists for neonatal brain issues, and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a technique that circulates blood through an artificial lung and enriches it with oxygen to heal lung damage.

“Babies from 60 different hospitals in the region are referred to the NICU at Children’s National because of all the specialty programs we have and our ability to treat the most serious, complex conditions,” Dr. Short said. The agreement between the two hospitals is a tremendous benefit for the doctors and staff treating babies at Virginia Hospital Center, Dr. Short said. Whenever it’s needed, the Hospital’s NICU staff has access to all of the expertise at Children’s National.

Expectant parents who are delivering their babies at Virginia Hospital Center should certainly have the utmost confidence in its NICU in the unlikely event that it is needed. In fact, the excellence of Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU was the impetus for Children’s National to create this important collaborationChildren’s National to create this important collaboration, Dr. Short said.

“As a community NICU, Virginia Hospital Center has been out in the forefront,” she said. “The Hospital has a long-standing reputation for excellence in neonatology and obstetric services with a state-of-the-art NICU in terms of technology and design. When we were planning to redesign our NICU at Children’s National, we visited Virginia Hospital Center to see what features we should include.”

As the Medical Director of Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU, Dr. Short will be working toward bringing more of the technology currently at Children’s National—including advanced ventilation and nitric oxide gas therapy—to Virginia Hospital Center.

“What this means is that more of the babies needing these kinds of services will be able to be treated at Virginia Hospital Center,” she said.

The recent renovation of the Hospital’s Women & Infant Health Unit included a $1.2 million overhaul of the NICU, featuring 16 suites. Each suite is kept quiet with soundproofed flooring and ceiling tiles, and features comfortable leather chairs that flatten into beds, and specialized chairs for breastfeeding.

With this commitment to family centered care, Virginia Hospital Center has made delivery and care for newborns a comfortable experience for families and their fragile newborns. “We have a long track record of providing research-based best practices in care at Children’s National, for which we have been recognized by our peers nationwide. We look forward to working with the neonatal-perinatal team members at Virginia Hospital Center making expert care available to families closer to home,” said Dr. Short.

The Project Give Hope wall, NICU at Virginia Hospital Center

PROJECT GIVE HOPE: At the entrance to Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU is the Project Give Hope wall, a mural filled with the beautiful faces of former NICU patients ages one through early adulthood. Like the everlasting garden mural that frames each patient'each patient's portrait and birth story, these children are growing and thriving with each season.

Look how they grown! Graduates of Virginia Hospital Center’s NICU and their families recently came back to celebrate the dedication of the Project Give Hope wall. View their photos on page 3 of HealthReach magazine, Fall 2012 issue.

Subscribe to HealthReach | Fall 2012

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