Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital to Manage Gateway Medical Center’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

The Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt is working to finalize agreements which will place the hospital as the manager of the NICU at Gateway Medical Center in Clarksville as soon as January 2005.

On Wednesday, Vanderbilt and Gateway were granted a certificate of need by the Tennessee Health Services and Development Agency. A certificate of need is a permit for the establishment or modification of a health care institution, facility or service at a designated location.

"This will simplify transporting Clarksville-area infants who are being cared for at Vanderbilt to Gateway once they are well enough to be moved. This brings these infants closer to home," said Jim Shmerling, Children’s Hospital CEO.

For the past eight years, many sick infants in Clarksville have received care from Vanderbilt neonatologists who have provided 24 hour coverage at Gateway Medical Center’s first "level two" NICU. The NICU at Children’s Hospital operates as a "level three" unit, so infants with more serious conditions are treated in Nashville.

Bradley Stancombe, M.D., associate professor of Pediatrics at Vanderbilt, has been at Gateway since 1996 as the NICU’s medical director, treating patients from Fort Campbell and the surrounding city. Now the Gateway NICU will soon become an official Vanderbilt outreach operation. The NICU’s beds, equipment and supplies will be provided by Vanderbilt. Children’s Hospital will employ the neonatal nurse practitioners.

"I am very excited that after eight years of building this unit that the growing census and delivery service has resulted in an even closer relationship with Vanderbilt," Stancombe said. "Our hope is that through a partnership we can make the unit more efficient and cost effective.

"The number one priority at Gateway has been to provide quality level 2B NICU care that is equivalent to that received in Nashville hospitals."

While little would change in the eyes of patients and their families, a paper change of ownership of those NICU beds means supplies and equipment can be purchased in bulk as an extended part of the much larger NICU at the Children’s Hospital in Nashville.

That could mean a cut in costs and availability of more cutting-edge technology equipment.

The unit, supported by 10 local obstetricians, currently has 12 beds, which have been near capacity for the past eight months. Deliveries have increased from 500 a year to 1,500 since the unit opened.

Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital

Contact: Carole Bartoo, (615) 322-4747