During the COVID-19 pandemic, many medical procedures were postponed for several weeks as a safety precaution across the country and at Pikeville Medical Center (PMC). However, that did not apply to expectant mothers and the medical staff dedicated to delivering and caring for newborn babies.

In fact, during this time, PMC made several announcements centered around enhancing various aspects of pediatric care to children of all ages throughout the region.  One piece of advanced equipment for PMC’s youngest and most vulnerable patients in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was recently delivered.

A generous grant from Kosair Charities allowed PMC to purchase a Temperature Management “Cooling Blanket Therapy” system, which is now in place in the PMC NICU.  This advanced system has the ability to safely cool a newborn’s body and brain temperature, potentially saving a baby’s life in certain situations.

“This is exciting news for our entire region,” explained PMC NICU Medical Director and Neonatologist Todd Hambleton, MD. “A cooling system, by itself, is non-invasive – it requires no medication, no needles, and no incisions. Some babies, even those born at full term, experience a lack of oxygen and blood flow to the brain shortly after birth. We now have another tool to help us treat babies who fall into this category.”

This system uses a technique called hypothermia treatment, in which the newborn is wrapped in a waterproof blanket that circulates cool water, lowering the body’s temperature to 92.3 degrees Fahrenheit. Experts say decreasing the temperature cools the baby’s brain and body, reducing the risk of brain injury by as much as 50 percent.