Ask the BJC Expert

Ask the BJC Expert

Progress West Hospital’s Newborn Intensive Care Unit

Emily Fishman, MD

Published on Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Dr. Emily Fishman is a Neonatologist with Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Newborn Medicine.  She sees newborns in the Progress West Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

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We are going to be chatting today with Dr. Emily Fishman. Dr. Fishman is going to part of the newborn intensive care unit at Progress West Hospital soon to be opened there. Dr. Fishman is a Neonatologist with Washington University School of Medicine, Department of Newborn Medicine.  She going to be seeing newborns in the Progress West Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit located in the Childbirth Center.

 Dr. Fishman, good morning, welcome.

Good morning. Thanks for having me.

So let’s talk a bit. First of all, what is a neonatologist?

That is a great question. We are actually just specialized pediatricians. We have all done basic pediatric training and then we have gone on to do extra training specifically treating early babies as well as babies that may have a known birth defect as well as taking care of babies that are born closer to their due date that may need extra help after they are born.

What is your role pre-birth? What is the neonatologist’s role in a woman’s pregnancy?

What our role in that pregnancy is that sometimes an obstetrician will have us get involved either early and meet with a mom before baby is born if they are seeing something along the pregnancy either with the baby itself or the mom is having some extra health issues during the pregnancy. We may consult on a mom before the baby is born or if we know that a mom is going to deliver early and the baby is going to have to need stay in the hospital longer the normally anticipated time frame.

We have heard the term Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and I have seen how they operate. They are pretty incredible. Why would any baby need to be in the Progress West Newborn Intensive Care Unit (ICU)?

That’s a really great question. We are really excited about the Progress West Newborn ICU. We are going to be able to take care of babies at 32 weeks gestation which means that these are babies that are born 8 weeks before their due date and as small as about three pounds. You might ask why babies are born this early. Sometimes babies have to be born because there is a condition that develops during pregnancy where a mom has delivered early and we are able to care for these babies that are even that small over at the Progress West Newborn ICU. There are also babies that are born closer to their due dates that may need extra oxygen or intravenous (IV) antibiotics or just closer watching. We are going to be able to have that space there and space where parents can come and visit and spend time with their babies as well.

It is pretty incredible when you see those full term babies next to those newborns that are three pounds. It just amazes me when I see that and what can be done. What is the average length of stay for a newborn in the Newborn ICU for an infant?

The average length of stay does vary in the Newborn ICU. It really depends on how early or how sick a baby is after it is born. What we usually say is that the baby is born early so they are on that younger side that 32 weeks. We will say that usually the due date is when a baby is ready to go home from the Newborn ICU and that is because the babies really have to learn what they would have learned if they were born closer to their due date. They have to learn how to not need any extra oxygen, keep their temperatures without needing extra heat because they are on the small side when they are born. They need to have enough stamina to eat by mouth and not need any feeding supplementation with a feeding tube.

As a Neonatologist you specialize in this area. What will the pediatrician do? Will they help with the baby’s care while they are in NICU?

We do work in conjunction with pediatric hospitals, the Washington University School of Medicine so they will be helping with the care of the baby as well as we partner with pediatricians that do come into the hospital to see their own babies as well. If a baby is admitted to the Progress West Newborn ICU, they will be under the care of a neonatologist but we will be working closely with the pediatricians that are in St. Charles County and St. Louis County as well as the pediatric hospital that comes with us from Washington University as well.

It is amazing to see what you guys do and I am looking forward to the opening. Again, the Progress West Hospital Newborn Intensive Care Unit is going to be located in the Childbirth Center and NICU at Progress West Hospital and will soon be opened. Dr. Emily Fishman will be right there in the thick of it working with all the newborns. Dr. Fishman, thank you so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

Thanks for having me.

Dr. Emily Fishman with us again from Barnes-Jewish St. Peters Hospital and Progress West Hospitals.

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