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.
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).