8 July 2015

Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center Introduces Neonatal Cooling Therapy

Sheridan would like to announce that the NICU team at Gulf Coast Medical Center in Panama City, Florida has begun neonatal cooling therapy, thanks to the efforts of neonatologist Melissa Tyree, MD, FAAP. Dr. Tyree and this new therapy were highlighted on local channel 13 WMBB-TV: “This therapeutic option is being provided to term and near-term infants who experience birth-related oxygen deprivation and show signs of brain injury. The therapy has been shown to reduce the risk of death and disabilities such as cerebral palsy, mental retardation, and learning disorders.”  There are several problems that occur during pregnancy and delivery that can lead to this condition, also known as Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). Therapeutic cooling is a clinical treatment that involves reducing a patient’s body temperature to 92 degrees Fahrenheit for three days. In the past there was no brain-specific therapy for HIE. While cooling therapy is safe and effective, it must be initiated within 6 hours from birth. Cooling therapy also requires close monitoring and management of potential side effects and therefore can only be performed in selective, experienced level 3 neonatal intensive care units.

Click here to view the full video

Shortly after the development of the level 3 neonatal intensive care unit at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center, the neonatologists and neonatal care team worked diligently to develop a Neonatal Therapeutic Hypothermia (Cooling) Program.  On March 1, 2015 the program was officially opened. On April 1, 2015 the first patient requiring therapy was born and experienced a full recovery with a normal exam and normal MRI after completing the 72 hour therapy. Her parents' gratitude was beyond words; not only for her recovery, but also for the ability to remain at her side throughout her entire hospital course now that this new therapy is available at Gulf Coast Regional Medical Center.

This is an exciting program that will permit timely therapy for infants born at GCRMC.  It will also provide a closer transport alternative than Pensacola or Tallahassee for babies born at other hospitals in the Florida panhandle.