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Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, UCSF team up for expanded pediatric care

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Gladis Romero’s first baby was born three years ago in El Salvador, where the neonatal care she received was “not the same” as what she got this week when her 6-pound baby boy, Axel, was born.

On Friday, sitting in a private room at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s revamped labor and delivery unit, the 21-year-old mom lovingly watched Axel yawn and stretch his little body on a soft pillow.

“It wasn’t the same level of care as you get here,” said Romero, who lives in Rohnert Park. “It’s better here, much better.”

Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital says that level of care is now unmatched in the region, thanks to recent facility upgrades and, more importantly, a new partnership with UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals, a world-class provider considered a gold standard for neonatal and pediatric care.

“Memorial’s upgraded neonatal intensive care unit … gives us the highest level NICU services that this community has ever seen,” said Todd Salnas, president of St. Joseph Health in Sonoma County, which operates Memorial Hospital.

Dr. Stephen Wilson, chief medical officer and vice president of UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital in San Francisco, said the merger deepens its current partnership with St. Joseph Health. For nearly 16 years, UCSF has operated Memorial’s “Level III” intensive care nursery and provided services to women with high-risk pregnancies at its Prenatal Diagnostic Center in Santa Rosa.

Under this new partnership, Annadel Medical Group pediatricians will team up with UCSF outpatient pediatric specialty practices to expand the availability of subspecialty care available at a clinic located in one of Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital’s facilities. These expanded services include hematology, endocrinology and diabetes care, gastroenterology, cardiology, neurology, organ transplantation support and kidney care.

Salnas said the availability of such subspecialty services in Santa Rosa will in some cases eliminate the need for expecting mothers to travel to San Francisco for their neonatal and pediatric care. Salnas said the partnership will incorporate the use of telemedicine for consultation services, giving patients greater access to pediatric specialists.

The partnership will also:

Create more opportunities for local family medicine residents to train with UCSF specialists at Memorial, Petaluma Valley and other St. Joseph facilities.

Grow educational programs for physicians, nurses and support staff.

Bring Memorial’s quality metrics in line with those of a specialized children’s hospital.

“Memorial Hospital has had a process in place for years for quality control, but we are bringing a children’s hospital focus to that,” Wilson said.

Salnas said the venture, dubbed the Center for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, will also allow St. Joseph to attract and retain “top-notch” physicians and nurses.

The details of the partnership are somewhat lost on Romero, who sat next to Axel Friday afternoon as the 3-day-old fell asleep. She said she’s simply thankful for the care she received.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 707-521-5213 or martin.espinoza@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @renofish.

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