Elevating neonatal care for the region

With the only Level IV NICU in the region, Norton Children Hospital is able to care for babies with potentially life-threatening conditions such as single ventricle defects and diaphragmatic hernia.

With a Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), Norton Children’s Hospital can serve as “the beacon” for improved care for neonates across the region, according to Tamina R. Singh, M.D., the new medical director of the 101-bed unit.

The Norton Children’s Hospital NICU is the only one in the region recognized as a Level IV — the highest designation by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

“I really want people in the community to know we are a Level IV unit. Folks can sometimes forget we are right here, and we can provide all the services those bigger names can,” said Dr. Singh, a neonatologist with Norton Children’s Neonatology, affiliated with the UofL School of Medicine.

The Level IV designation recognizes that the team of physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants is experienced and equipped to care for the most critically ill newborns with complex conditions.

• RELATED: Tamina Singh, M.D., named Norton Children’s Hospital NICU medical director

For example, with the only Level IV NICU in the region, Norton Children’s Hospital is able to care for babies with potentially life-threatening conditions such as single ventricle defects and diaphragmatic hernia, according to Dr. Singh.

Pediatric medical and surgical specialists are available around the clock, and the NICU is equipped to perform advanced imaging, including MRI and echocardiography, among many other advanced services.

Collaboration and research

As medical director, Dr. Singh also collaborates with NICUs at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital (Level III) and other local and regional hospitals.

Dr. Singh also serves as director of neonatal cardiovascular services. Her clinical and research interests include management of preoperative complex congenital heart disease; quality improvement and patient safety; bronchopulmonary dysplasia; and antibiotic stewardship. Norton Children’s Hospital NICU is currently participating in a multisite study looking at reducing antibiotic use in neonates.

In addition to patient care, Dr. Singh is involved in education of residents and fellows. She serves as the physician liaison for medical students rotating through the NICU.

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Her own pediatrician as a role model

A part of the job Dr. Singh relishes is taking care of infants at the Norton Children’s Neonatal Follow-up Clinics , often after they’ve received lifesaving heart surgery. She is motivated by the joy families feel when their babies are healthy enough to go home.

“Being able to see the journey the family has had and all the struggles and the frustration and to see the beautiful child at the end, that’s the piece that makes me so happy,” Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh was inspired to become a doctor by her own pediatrician as a child in Jamaica.

“She was graceful and kind and she was beautiful. She dressed so well. I know that sounds silly. She was just the kindest and gentlest person, and I wanted to be just like her. I was 6 when I met her,” Dr. Singh said.

Dr. Singh attended medical school at the University Hospital of the West Indies, in Kingston, Jamaica, and then had a residency in pediatrics at the University of Illinois School of Medicine in Chicago. She did her fellowship in neonatal and perinatal training at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio.

“I moved to the United States for the extra training the U.S. could provide for me. I’m so grateful for that opportunity. I wasn’t planning to stay here,” Dr. Singh said. “Life has different paths for you, sometimes.”

When she’s not working, she and her husband like to run or cook together. She also likes hiking and travel.

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