25 Years of Exceptional Care for Moms and Babies in Redwood City

Stanford Children’s team at Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital reaches important milestone

Members of the Packard Children’s Special Nursery at Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital team. photographer Erin Lubin
Select members of the Packard Children’s Special Nursery at Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital team.
Photo Credit: Erin Lubin

Improving care for newborns and expectant mothers is always something to celebrate. We’re thrilled to announce that 25 years ago, a desire to bring excellence in neonatology care to Redwood City sparked a powerful partnership. Dignity Health Sequoia Hospital and Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford teamed up to positively impact the lives of numerous babies and mothers. The result was a Level II designated special care nursery at Sequoia Hospital that has been 100% staffed by Packard Children’s doctors and nurses, along with the addition of perinatal services.

portrait of Dr. Nilima Ragavan. photographer Erin Lubin
Nilima Ragavan, MD
Photo Credit: Erin Lubin

“At the time, pediatricians were being called in to care for sick newborns. They had a genuine desire to enhance the level of care for newborns in their community, and they deserve much of the credit for having the foresight to create our partnership,” says Nilima Ragavan, MD, neonatologist and 25-year medical director of the Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Special Care Nursery at Sequoia Hospital.

By bringing neonatologists, pediatricians, and specially trained neonatal nurses together in one location, the Special Care Nursery Sequoia Hospital team is able to provide consistent, timely, specialized newborn care onsite where none was offered before. When infants are deemed to have highly complex care and/or treatment needs, the Sequoia Hospital team safely transfers them to the Packard Children’s Level IV Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) or Level II Intermediate Care Nursery.

Each year brought expanded newborn services and improved outcomes

As the years passed, the program grew. One of the first improvements Dr. Ragavan initiated was in the delivery room. So many changes happen at birth, and challenges can arise. By bringing neonatal physicians and specialized neonatal nurses into the delivery room, they enhanced care by proactively managing patients and avoiding complications.

newborn in the nicu

In the last 25 years, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health has integrated the latest technology at Sequoia Hospital, including neonatal brain-focused care for newborns via amplitude integrated electroencephalography (EEG). Multidisciplinary teams also trained nursery staff on respiratory support, enhancing it greatly over the years.

“Babies with moderate respiratory distress needing enhanced support early on had to be transferred out after four hours, but we now can manage them at Sequoia Hospital for up to 72 hours,” says Azin Akbarnejad-Oshagh, MD, a pediatrician who has been with the Stanford Children’s Special Care Nursery at Sequoia Hospital for over 20 years. Because of these enhancements, the Sequoia Hospital team has been able to take care of sicker babies.

Another important change over the years was providing 24/7 care by a neonatologist or pediatrician. At first, coverage was just during the day, with pediatricians on pager at night. By 2016, doctors were staffed around the clock. “Today, we are one group, and we know everything that is happening to every newborn in this hospital,” Dr. Ragavan says.

Adding perinatal care in the last decade  

Almost a decade ago, a Stanford Children’s Perinatal Diagnostic Center was established across from the hospital, bringing maternal-fetal medicine (MFM) diagnostics and advanced care for individuals with high-risk pregnancies close to the Sequoia Hospital community. Jane Chueh, MD, is the director of the Packard Children’s Prenatal Diagnostics Center in Redwood City today.

“It has been so helpful to have easy access to maternal-fetal medicine specialists. We all work together—our team, the Sequoia Hospital obstetrics team, and the MFMs—to make the best care decisions for our patients,” Dr. Ragavan says.

Having the backing of the greater Stanford Children’s teams and facilities

The Stanford Children’s team at Sequoia Hospital is extremely grateful to be a part of the larger Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford for the support and resources it provides. Because they are part of Stanford, they can offer specialized nutrition and medication from the pharmacy, video-consult with subspecialists from Packard Children’s, and quickly transfer very sick babies and high-risk pregnant individuals to Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford when necessary.

The benefits of care close to home

By extending perinatal and neonatal services at Sequoia Hospital, the Stanford Children’s team can empower expectant mothers to deliver close to home even when their baby is born prematurely. The nursery cares for newborns with low birth weight, breathing problems, infections, jaundice, feeding difficulty, low glucose, and more.

Because of the size of the program, leaders are able to initiate changes and incorporate new technology quickly. “This speaks to the administration at Sequoia Hospital and Packard Children’s, who have been open to our requests and extremely generous in their support,” Dr. Ragavan says.

Learn more about Stanford Medicine Children’s Health Special Care Nursery at Sequoia and our perinatal care for high-risk pregnancies.


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