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State award honors lifesaving newborn heart screening program
For their pioneering work in screening newborns for heart defects, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital’s Family Birth Center and the MultiCare Mary Bridge Pediatric Heart Center have been chosen to receive the 2011 Warren Featherstone Reid Award for Excellence in Health Care
Presented today by Washington State Department of Health Secretary Mary Selecky on behalf of Gov. Chris Gregoire, the award honors health care providers and facilities for exceptional quality and value in the delivery of health services.
“This test has found defects that can be fixed in two dozen tiny hearts, and saved countless families from heartache,” Selecky said. “MultiCare’s pioneering program sets the stage for a federal recommendation that the test be used in every hospital.”
Since 2008, Tacoma General has screened more than 8,700 day-old babies with a painless test that measures oxygen in the blood. Called pulse oximetry, the test detects low levels of oxygen in the blood, which may be indicative of a heart defect. The defects can then be treated early at the Mary Bridge Pediatric Heart Center. The test is free to patients, and costs the hospital less than $1 per newborn for equipment and supplies. Undetected heart defects are a leading cause of infant deaths.
“Our newborns are showing why this test could soon be saving young lives at other hospitals,” said Shelly Mullin, vice president and administrator of MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital. “Mothers who give birth at our Family Birth Center find comfort in knowing their babies have been screened for heart defects before they go home from the hospital. We’re honored that our work fulfills the spirit of this award.”
On Feb. 14, 2008, MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital, in collaboration with the Mary Bridge Pediatric Heart Center, implemented pulse oximetry screening of all newborns in the Family Birth Center. Since 2008, congenital heart defects have been found in 30 newborns that are now being followed by a pediatric cardiologist. Defects found in three newborns resulted in life-saving cardiac surgery.
MultiCare Tacoma General Hospital is the only hospital in Washington state that offers the test to every newborn, and one of only 30 hospitals across the nation.
In January 2011, representatives of MultiCare’s program were one of three U.S. hospital teams selected to travel to Washington, D.C., to make a presentation about the life-saving potential of universal pulse oximetry newborn screening. A U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services panel has recommended that pulse oximetry be used universally across the nation to screen newborns for heart disease. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius is expected to respond soon to the panel’s recommendations.
The work that has already saved young lives in Tacoma could soon be saving newborns across the United States.
KOMO News, Oct. 26, 2010: "Doctor saves siblings with same rare heart defect"
KOMO News, Feb. 17, 2009: "If it weren't for the screening, she wouldn't be here"
Posted on Sep 19, 2011 in Trophy Case