Robin L. Baker, MD, cares for babies in the neonatal intensive care unit at Inova Children’s Hospital on the Inova Fairfax Medical Campus. He is board-certified in neonatal-perinatal medicine and pediatrics.
Each year, an estimated 15 million babies around the world are born too soon, according to the March of Dimes, and one million of them will not survive.
World Prematurity Day is November 17. All month long, families, medical personnel and healthcare organizations are coming together to shine a light on babies born too early.
But in the Fairfax Neonatal Associates Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (FNA NICU) at Inova Children’s Hospital, our job doesn’t change once November rolls around. Our experienced team has one clear goal: Give sick babies the very best care, 365 days a year.
Tiny & Unique
Many babies end up in the NICU because they were born prematurely. However, infants can require extra care for any number of reasons, including infections, eating problems, breathing problems or heart defects.
Every one of those tiny patients is unique. Even two babies born at the same gestational age can have very different medical needs. One baby born at 30 weeks might have a neurological problem that needs specialized treatment; another might have a heart defect. Many of them have multiple problems.
Our patients all have one thing in common: They can’t tell us what’s wrong. We examine newborns quickly and thoroughly in the moments after birth so that we can identify the most acute problems and provide potentially lifesaving treatment. In our business, every minute counts – and every team member has a key role to play in the process.
Here in the NICU, we literally couldn’t do our jobs without a team mentality. That team includes neonatologists, cardiologists, neurologists, nurse practitioners, nurses, respiratory therapists, pharmacists, lactation consultants, occupational and physical therapists and more. And those specialists discuss each patient, every day.
At Inova Children’s Hospital, our goal is to minimize moving infants as much as possible. Our philosophy is to bring the best doctors to the baby’s bedside. It’s one of the reasons that Inova Children’s Hospital is ranked in neonatology by U.S. News & World Report.
Our team isn’t just made up of medical personnel. The patient’s family members are also key members of our team.
As soon as a baby is safe and stable, we encourage skin-to-skin contact with mom and dad. We urge parents to be there for morning rounds, to listen to doctors’ discussions with nurses and hear our plans for the day and for the week. And we make sure moms and dads are involved in important care activities like bathing and feeding.
We also have dedicated March of Dimes NICU family support staff available to educate parents, put them in touch with support groups and help them prepare to take their babies home. Having a very sick child is incredibly stressful. Supporting parents is one way in which we support our patients.
A NICU Pioneer
At Inova, we’re lucky that the Children’s Hospital and the Women’s Hospital are located on the same campus. The Inova Children’s Hospital Fetal Care Center can often identify problems such as heart defects or inherited disorders prenatally, so that we can prepare for a safe and seamless transition to the Children’s Hospital FNA NICU once the baby is born.
The FNA NICU at Children’s Hospital was one of the first in the region, and has been caring for sick and premature infants for more than 40 years. All of that time and experience adds up.
Our team isn’t just experienced in treating infants. We’re also experienced in working well with one another. I truly believe our team is more than a sum of its parts.
Learn more about The Fairfax Neonatal Associates NICU at Inova Children’s Hospital.