Driving past 61st Street and Yale Avenue in Tulsa, one can’t help but notice a giant panda waving. The friendly bear sits atop The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis and serves as a symbol of the most comprehensive pediatric medical care available in eastern Oklahoma. Through The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis, children in critical need have greater access to life-saving treatments and care – and families have a chance for healing and hope.
“Since opening The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis in February of 2008, a team of individuals at Saint Francis Health System have worked to recruit pediatric subspecialists to the Tulsa community,” says Dr. Shannon Filosa, executive director of women’s and children’s services for Saint Francis Health System. “Many specialties that were not available in Tulsa have been added with the addition of these new doctors. The addition of these specialties for children has improved the health of children in Tulsa and eastern Oklahoma because families now have access to the latest treatments and therapies from pediatric fellowship trained physicians.”
[pullquote]I try my best to comfort our parents while always being totally honest about care and prognosis. One of the greatest rewards to this job is sending a previously critically ill infant home with their family.[/pullquote]The Children’s Hospital offers services in more than 25 different pediatric specialties and includes the region’s only Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), pediatric hematology/oncology clinic and pediatric cardiac surgery program. In 2014, as part of its regional impact, Saint Francis neonatologists, pediatric intensivists and pediatric specialists provided educational outreach to more than 15 regional hospitals and hundreds of pediatric and family medicine providers through a monthly tele-health education series as well as onsite clinically focused presentations and specialty consults.
The 30,000-square-foot Henry Zarrow NICU is recognized as a Level IV NICU by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
“A Level IV NICU is the highest level in the country and provides comprehensive care for neonatal patients,” says Filosa. “A specific neonatal team attends high-risk deliveries and focuses on the baby’s condition to improve outcomes for infants born prematurely, difficult births, birth defects or any condition that places the infant at risk.”
The Henry Zarrow NICU cares for nearly 850 newborns and their families each year and provides life-saving procedures, such as therapeutic hypothermia and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) for infants suffering with heart and lung failure. The NICU also includes a specially trained neonatology transport team that travels to more than 20 smaller referral hospitals throughout eastern Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas. Nearly 35 percent of infants admitted to the Henry Zarrow NICU are born at other hospitals.
For families who live in Tulsa and surrounding areas, having state-of-the-art neonatal care close to home can be a great comfort.
“Because of the expertise available at this facility, parents and their babies don’t have to leave the city or state for most of the neonatal problems we encounter. Their support system is near home, and that’s what families need when they have an infant in the NICU,” says Dr. Rachel Davis-Jackson, a neonatal specialist with Warren Clinic and the medical director for the Henry Zarrow NICU at The Children’s Hospital at Saint Francis.
Davis-Jackson shares that she personally understands what it means to have a sick baby in the NICU, having had a child born premature, at 26 weeks. She considers it a privilege to help others along their journey.
“I thank God for the opportunity to do what I do. I believe, for me, this is a calling,” she says. “I try my best to comfort our parents while always being totally honest about care and prognosis. The news is not always good, but I attempt to deliver it in the most compassionate and caring manner I can. One of the greatest rewards to this job is sending a previously critically ill infant home with their family.”
She adds that after a child is released from the hospital, the rewards continue.
“Parents bring their growing children back to see us and send pictures,” she says. “It is an amazing feeling to watch these little ones grow, knowing the problems they started off with.”
Davis-Jackson and the staff at The Children’s Hospital are committed to providing the most advanced care in a compassionate and child-friendly environment, and their work was recently recognized. In 2014, The Children’s Hospital received a Four-star Award for its inpatient care from the Professional Research Consultants, ranking the hospital among the top 25 percent nationally.
Filosa attributes the achievement of a high level of inpatient care to the hospital’s comprehensive services and a dedicated staff that works in partnership with parents to promote family-centered care, quality and optimal outcomes for children.
According to Filosa, the unique features of the childbirth program that make it successful include the Henry Zarrow NICU and other key care services like the OB Hospitalist Program, which allows Saint Francis to have a board certified obstetrician in the hospital at all times.