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Miami Valley Hospital NICU Tool Aids Babies in Distress


As Miranda Ponder’s labor progressed, she needed a Caesarean section. The baby was showing signs of distress.

Because Baby Evelyn was not breathing upon birth, Marc Belcastro, DO, a neonatologist and the medical director at Miami Valley Hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) told Miranda her baby was a good candidate for the cooling cap.

The cooling cap is a FDA-approved tool now available for babies in distress to help minimize or prevent brain damage. Dr. Belcastro explains the cap must be applied within six hours of birth and the treatment is for 72 hours. In addition to the cap, MVH has a cooling blanket which works the same way as the cap.

“The goal is to cool the brain which slows down the body functions and minimizes the damage. We cool the babies to 93 to 94 degrees. They’re uncomfortable but we keep them sedated during the treatment.”

Dr. Belcastro says outcomes from the cooling cap have been positive. “Overall outcomes have shown that babies have improved survival. This is another tool available to us to offer a brain injured baby.”

Baby Evelyn was the first patient at MVH to be treated with the cooling cap. These days Evelyn is doing well and, according to Miranda, is developing on target. “I can’t tell you how fortunate we were to have Miami Valley Hospital’s NICU right there. They were very comforting in a very scary situation and I wasn’t just a spectator,” said Miranda. “They encouraged me to pump my breast milk and with time I could breast feed her.” Evelyn spent two weeks in the NICU at MVH. “They even let me bathe her and bond with her.”

Dr. Belcastro explains that the cooling cap blanket must be used in a Level IIIB NICU. “We have a specialized team of nurses that run our hypothermia program. I’d say we use the cap six to eight times a year.”

Evelyn and her parents are very thankful the NICU at Miami Valley Hospital is equipped with leading-edge technology and the experienced professionals who offer our community’s most vulnerable patients the care they critically need.

In 2009 the NICU at MVH expanded from 49 beds to 60. The mission of the unit is to offer the bestquality health care possible to all our patients and families. As the rate of premature infant births in Ohio continues to increase, we are focused on improving the NICU to meet the demand and keep up with the latest advances in care.

Back to 2009 CIR