Changes coming to Erlanger NICU, parents concerned
Some parents are unhappy about a big change coming to Erlanger's neonatal intensive care unit.
Beginning in January the NICU will be managed by Monroe Carell Junior Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
"If it wasn't for these people up here in this building, Caitlin's date of birth and date of death would have been the same day," Ashley Johnson said about her daughter’s time in the Erlanger NICU.
Johnson's daughter, Caitlin, had trisomy, a genetic disorder that can cause developmental problems.
She credits the nurses at Erlanger's NICU for helping save her daughter when she was born.
"Those wonderful, intelligent people that became like family to me are the ones who are going to help you and help your child at the beginning of their story so that it can continue," Johnson said.
Starting December 4th the NICU at Erlanger will be managed by Vanderbilt, it will provide the department's medical director and nursing director. Erlanger will continue to employ the nurse practitioners and neonatology physicians. They will follow Vanderbilt protocol, policies, and procedures.
"We'll have more physicians teams, more physician providers, more nurse practitioners that are available at the bedside for the patients," said Erlanger Children’s Hospital CEO Don Mueller.
But Ashley is concerned children like her daughter, with trisomy, may not get the care they need.
She claims Vanderbilt turned her daughter away twice because of her condition when she needed heart surgery. Her daughter passed away shortly after.
"We were told a resounding no both times. I asked if it was because she had trisomy 18 and we were told yes,” said Johnson, “It just kind of leaves a bad taste in my mouth for Vanderbilt."
Mueller said parents shouldn't be worried. He says teaming up with Vanderbilt allows them to make even better decisions.
"What we're trying to do is really make sure we've got the team of professionals on the ground that can work with these parents, work with kids with genetic issues and really understand what's going on with them and really understand what's going on with them and put together a detailed treatment plan to take care of them in the future," said Mueller.
Some parents have also expressed concerns over NICU nurses losing their jobs. Mueller explained the hospital’s contract with Mednax, a company many of the nurses work for, is expiring. The hospital is choosing not to renew its contract with the company. However, they are entering into a new contract with Vanderbilt, and more positions will be added.
Anyone with questions or concerns over the change can call Erlanger at 423-778-7427/