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MVH NICU Medical Director, Nurse Practitioner Given Top Awards

Both individuals recognized for their leadership roles in challenging industry

Dayton, OH (June 18, 2010) – A year ago Miami Valley Hospital cut the ribbon on its new $19 million Level III Neonatal Intensive Care Unit and recently the hospital helped celebrate at least two of the individuals whose tireless work puts the cutting edge facility in the top of its class.

Dr. Marc Belcastro, medical director of the NICU, and Brenda Burkholder, neonatal nurse practitioner, both received awards by Pediatrix Medical Group for the outstanding work they do in their field. Dr. Belcastro and Burkholder are employed by Pediatrix, a national firm which provides the physician services for the hospital’s Level III NICU.

Dr. Belcastro was named Pediatrix Central Region’s Medical Director of the Year. Burkholder was given the Regional Advanced Practitioner Award. The awards are totally independent of one another, making the dual recognition that much more significant to hospital leaders.

“It’s an honor to have individuals representing Miami Valley making a distinguished mark on such a nationally prominent company,” said Mary Boosalis, president and CEO of Miami Valley Hospital. “It’s people like Marc and Brenda who really take the state-of-the-art tools we have and use them in a personal way to help infants and families who are facing such a critical time in their lives.”

Burkholder began her career in the neonatal unit in 1986, after working in adult intensive care units for five years. She developed an instant love for the job and has been there ever since. In 2000, she received her masters degree and a year later went on to become a nurse practitioner. She loves the challenges and rewards that come from working with infants in critical condition and walking with their families through the often painful process.

She said the award is very humbling considering she works with six other nurse practitioners who deserve the award just as much as she does. However, those who nominated and chose her for the award say her dedication and attitude is what makes her stand out from the rest.

Burkholder was responsible, for instance, for initiating and maintaining the oxygen saturation project. The project put a protocol in place that ensures that premature babies receive the right amount of oxygen according to their gestational age. She is also part of the Vermont Oxford Network collaborative, which is a nationwide group who has come together to develop better practices for the care of neonates.

Dr. Belcastro also began his career in Miami Valley’s NICU in the mid-80s. He started his career as a neonatologist in 1986 after doing neonatal fellowship at Miami Valley. He became medical director in 2004, and five years later oversaw the design and implementation of the hospital’s new 60-bed NICU. His ability to navigate some of the position’s toughest tasks as well as his gift for developing and nurturing relationships with key partnerships around the city is what made him a strong candidate for the award.

Those who work beside him on a daily basis, however, might say his strongest characteristics are his integrity, gentleness and humble attitude. While being a medical director means more time in meetings, Dr. Belcastro refuses to relinquish his duties to the other physicians in his partnership.

“If I am not rounding, taking calls or working as hard as my partners, then I just become a businessman to them,” he said. “You have to work full time to be the medical director and be effective.”

Dr. Belcastro was humbled and pleased at the same time to receive the regional recognition. But the award may pale in comparison to the way he feels whenever he meets a former patient who has grown up to be a healthy college graduate or even in some cases a new mom.

Perhaps one of his favorite memories came from a day when he walked into a postpartum room to see a baby. The mother had once been a very sick newborn who Dr. Belcastro had helped transfer from another Dayton hospital to Miami Valley’s NICU. The lung and heart machine he had placed her on helped save her life.

“The baby I once took care of was having a healthy baby of her own,” Belcastro recounts. “That was incredible.”

The NICU that Dr. Belcastro and Burkholder work in today is much different than the one they started in. The new 51,000-square-foot unit, which is located on two floors of the Berry Women’s Health Pavilion, is more than double the size of its predecessor. The unit fosters family-centered care through its 60 private rooms. Each patient room is designed to protect tiny babies from outside stimuli and encourage development by incorporating sound-absorbent ceilings and floor tiles, dimming lighting systems and sliding glass doors.