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St. Louise Regional Hospital Staff and Patient

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Stories of Impact

Supporting Families of NICU Infants

Developed by pediatric nurse practitioner (PNP) Polly Patel, the BRIDGE (Babies Reaching Improved Development & Growth in Their Environment) program has been providing compassionate, patient-centered care for more than 10 years. This innovative care model is designed to ensure babies born premature, or with complex health conditions, have a healthy transition from their hospital stay to their home.

Newborns and their families meet with one of the BRIDGE program's PNPs during their hospital stay to make plans for a smooth and supported hospital discharge and transition home. Once discharged, the NP provides follow-up care, education, resources and support for the newborn and family through home visits. They also help to monitor the infants’ growth and development and connect the family to vital community resources.

Born prematurely or facing other health challenges, babies who are referred for care at one of our NICUs (Neonatal Intensive Care Units) are often among most vulnerable due to their level of prematurity and related health issues. Many mothers and families receiving care at our public hospitals also have complex and unique challenges that make providing care for their baby home difficult.

Believed to be one of the first in the nation, the BRIDGE program continues to have a positive impact on the lives of the newborns and families it serves based on the achievement of key milestones essential for healthy growth and development.

With your support, Valley Health Foundation provides essential support for the immediate needs of underserved, high-risk babies and their families and program staff. VHF provides essential items for caring for their baby including but not limited to, diapers, wipes, formula, and bassinets.

“We see families in difficult situations every day. It’s really thanks to generous donors that we can rely on Valley Health Foundation to make sure they have everything they need,” Polly Patel, who provides oversight of the program, shared.

One mother shared, “[The BRIDGE program] was like a hand holding mine through those first six months.”

Your support has also helped Valley Health Foundation create a new program called Project Connect that will provide additional follow-up to families with high-risk babies and make sure that they are connected to the resources they need. Through this program and others, you are helping to innovate and advocate better health for all by helping to address the socio-economic challenges families face in giving their vulnerable babies the best chance to thrive.  


*Photo caption: A mother and her infant patient with Polly Patel (note: they are not the patients mentioned in the story)