Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health ensures critical patients get quality care when it matters most.
A child’s earliest years should be a time of joy, exploration and growth. Laughter should fill the air. But there are times when life doesn’t go as planned.
Sometimes children are born with difficult medical conditions. Other times, toddlers or older children suffer life-changing or life-threatening injuries. From neonatal care for the youngest, most vulnerable patients to trauma services for children as they grow, Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health is prepared. By housing these critical services in a single organization, we make it simple for parents to navigate their children’s care during hard times from any hospital in our system.
Perks of Connection
No one cares for your children like family. Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health is a family of hospitals and clinics that provides the expertise and compassion children need to heal from serious injuries and illnesses—and get back to playing, learning and enjoying life with their parents and siblings. While Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health facilities have their own personalities and cultures of excellence, none stand alone. Because of this, families receive consistent care at any facility, whether a full-service hospital or standalone clinic.
From one hospital to the next, physicians and team members frequently communicate, comparing best practices and approaches to care. When an illness is difficult to treat, system physicians and staff rely on each other for help. They reach out to other specialists for input. If a particular service, such as a complex neonatal surgery, is not available at one hospital, the interconnectedness of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health allows us to quickly and efficiently transfer the patient to another hospital in the system that can best treat the patient. The end result is an appropriate treatment plan and improved level of care.
“No matter where a patient enters our system, they should be able to get the right care in the right place at the right time,” says Alston E. “Trey” Dunbar III, MD, president of Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health. “That’s the kind of system we strive to be. By having connected care across the state of Louisiana, we make it happen every day.”
Inside The NICU
For premature infants who start life with a medical condition or who may need a little more time to acclimate to their new world, specialized, round-the-clock care is vital but rarely something that parents expect to need. That’s where the neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) at our hospitals come in.
The connected care among the NICUs at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center provides health and healing for new family members across Louisiana. We’re proud to fulfill the needs of families by providing the Northeast Louisiana region’s only Level 3 NICU at St. Francis Medical Center and the Acadiana region’s only Level 3 Surgical NICU at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital. In each of our NICUs, our team members care for patients using technology that mimics the womb to help developing babies grow into healthy children and adults.
“We give great care to the youngest patients with the greatest needs,” says Kathi Comeaux, director of Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital NICU. “In the NICU, the staff has the amazing opportunity to turn traumatic events into positive experiences, and we do it every day.”
To ensure nursing teams are prepared for such a responsibility, nurses who desire to work in the NICU undergo 18 additional months of specialized training. Provided by the hospital system, the training gradually exposes new nurses to issues experienced by neonatal patients.
“We can provide pretty much anything that a baby may need at birth,” says Amy Zeringue, MD, neonatologist, medical director for the NICU at Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital. “Thanks to an amazing group of specialists, we provide comprehensive care, even for complex patients.”
Some babies require surgery after birth to repair heart defects, hernias or other issues that threaten their ability to grow and thrive. The NICUs at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital are Level 3-S facilities, meaning they offer surgical care. Patients with the most complex surgical needs receive care at the Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital. Here, private rooms allow babies and families to stay together and bond, and patients have access to a wide range of pediatric specialists and subspecialists.
When patients in the St. Francis Medical Center NICU need surgery, all it takes is a seamless transfer to one of the other hospitals—and, after the operation, they can return to St. Francis Medical Center for close-to-home recovery and follow-up care. That’s the advantage of having your baby at a hospital that’s part of an integrated children’s health network.
Critical Care Grows Up
Just as some babies may need round-the-clock, specialized care in the NICU to start life off on the right foot, seriously ill children—those with major infections, heart conditions and ongoing effects from traumatic injuries, among others—may need high-level treatment and monitoring in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU). Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health features PICUs at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital, Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital and St. Francis Medical Center.
In our PICUs, children receive respiratory monitoring and support, heart rate monitoring, and other services from a specialized team that includes board-certified pediatric intensivists, other pediatric specialists, and nurses. Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital and Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital are home to their region’s only pediatric ICU, staffed with fellowship-trained critical care physicians 24/7.
When Trauma Strikes
High-speed accidents involving automobiles, bicycles, golf carts and ATVs. Contact injuries during football, baseball, soccer and basketball. Burns. Boat accidents. Drowning. Abuse. There are countless causes of pediatric trauma—and Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is equipped to treat all pediatric traumatic injuries.
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital is the only dedicated pediatric ER in Baton Rouge and the only Level 2 pediatric trauma unit. The award-winning emergency team is staffed with physicians who are fellowship-trained emergency medicine pediatricians with a comprehensive range of specialties.
Here, and throughout our network, our pediatric patients receive unparalleled urgent care.
The first stop for trauma patients is the ER. Here, emergency physicians trained in pediatric care evaluate and stabilize the young patient. Depending on the type of trauma, other pediatric physicians, nurses and therapists assist with care.
With a multidisciplinary team on hand, children who experience trauma don’t have to leave the state when they need medical care right now. Instead, they receive the care they need close to home. This puts them on the road to recovery without their parents spending hours on the road.
Our Lady of Lourdes provides dedicated care for some of the most devastating traumatic injuries that children can experience—burns. The hospital’s burn center is the only one in Southwest Louisiana. A team of burn surgeons, physicians, nurses, social workers and rehabilitation therapists care for burns caused by:
- Electrical equipment
- Hot liquids
Our burn center’s services are truly comprehensive, encompassing outpatient care for minor burns and inpatient care for serious injuries. For patients who are admitted to the burn center, we have dedicated surgery suites, hyperbaric oxygen therapy and hydrotherapy.
Getting to the Right Place
Having top-notch neonatal and pediatric critical care services is vital. However, they’re meaningless if you can’t access them. Thanks to our transport services, families throughout Louisiana can quickly access the pediatric services at Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health in the most efficient way possible. Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Health and its transport teams make it possible to quickly reach quality care from any location.
Additionally, the ambulances, helicopter and fixed-wing airplanes are filled with technology and tools to care for young patients. On top of special ventilators and incubators, the transport vehicles contain advanced technology that serves to double-check transport team members’ calculations, ensuring patients receive appropriate treatment, whether they need medication, oxygen or other care.
When to Fly
In general, young patients are transferred by ambulance when they’re within 50 miles of their destination. If a child needs to be transported up to 150 miles, then a helicopter is issued. Beyond that distance or in bad weather, a fixed-wing aircraft is called upon for safe, efficient transport.
Our Lady of the Lake Children’s Hospital houses our newest NICU—the Newton & Betsy Thomas Family Center for Newborn & Infant Intensive Care. Since this Level 3-Surgical NICU is not connected to a delivery center, most infants arrive via transport.
Our Lady of Lourdes Women’s & Children’s Hospital is the only Level 3 Surgical NICU in Acadiana.
St. Francis Medical Center offers the only Level 3 NICU in northeastern Louisiana, providing critical care to babies as far away as Arkansas and Mississippi.