NEWS | November 12, 2015

UC Davis Children's Hospital marks second anniversary of PEANUT Program


UC Davis Children’s Hospital’s Pediatric Emergency Assistance to Newborns Using Telehealth (PEANUT) program marks its second anniversary this month. The program provides clinicians at rural hospitals round-the-clock access to neonatologists and other subspecialists through the use of UC Davis’ award-winning secure videoconferencing capabilities.

Since its November 2013 launch, PEANUT has expanded its partnership from four rural hospitals to nine and has helped provide virtual care to approximately 50 newborn infants throughout Northern California.

Photo of telemedicine
Dr. John Holcroft uses telemedicine with one patient.

The program assists with pre-term deliveries and full-term babies who are born with an unanticipated problem, including abnormalities or heart defects. UC Davis Children’s Hospital physicians also consult on pediatric patients who arrive in the emergency department.

“Hospitals that have a high number of deliveries each year have neonatologists on staff,” said James Marcin, director of the pediatric telemedicine program and chief of pediatric critical care medicine for the children’s hospital. “We are working with small hospitals that have a handful of critical cases a year.”

In some cases, babies are transported to UC Davis Children’s Hospital for additional treatment. Sometimes the doctors utilize the PEANUT program for expertise and advice on ordering additional tests, like if a newborn baby’s blood sugar is low or they are breathing quickly.

“We’re able to help keep babies in their local hospital that wouldn’t be able to stay without our virtual presence,” Marcin said.

All of the UC Davis Children’s Hospital neonatologists are trained in PEANUT, as well as Pediatric ICU physicians, geneticists and cardiologists.

“Rural doctors and hospitals deliver great care. But they have limited access to pediatric subspecialists,” said Madan Dharmar, the principal investigator for the PEANUT program.

“Without subspecialty guidance, newborn infants may be undertreated, receive inappropriate therapies or face unnecessary transfers. By providing immediate access to neonatologists, and other pediatric experts, PEANUT provides a safety net for rural clinicians and their patients.”

The program is funded through a three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for the Advancement of Telehealth – Health Resources and Services Administration (OAT-HRSA).

UC Davis Children's Hospital is the Sacramento region's only nationally ranked, comprehensive hospital for children, serving infants, children, adolescents and young adults with primary, subspecialty and critical care. It includes the Central Valley's only pediatric emergency department and Level I pediatric trauma center, which offers the highest level of care for critically ill children. The 120-bed children's hospital includes the state-of-the-art 49-bed neonatal and 24-bed pediatric intensive care and pediatric cardiac intensive care units. With more than 120 physicians in more than 30 subspecialties, UC Davis Children's Hospital has more than 74,000 clinic and hospital visits and 13,000 emergency department visits each year. For more information, visit