Cone Health residency for neonatal pharmacists first in country

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- Babies can spend days, weeks or even months in the neonatal intensive care unit.

During that time, the priority above anything else is to get the child healthy enough to go home.

A new program at Women’s Hospital is committed to continuing that effort.

Women’s Hospital is now the first place in the country with an accredited pharmacy residency program focused on infants in intensive care.

“To have that accreditation behind our name just gives the program more credibility,” pharmacy manager Laurie Green said.

Credibility helps residency candidates get competitive jobs, but just as important, it sets a standard while they are at the hospital.

“It’s the way that we make sure that we are training people with a quality education so that they really know what they’re doing and that they know how to take care of your baby,” said Mindy Holcombe, residency program director.

The resident monitors a baby’s eating patterns, growth and medications -- and records information to discuss with doctors and nurses.

The group collaborates to determine the best treatment for the child.

“We’re treating your child as an individual. We’re not looking at them as just as patient,” Green said.

That kind of commitment has been a relief to Judith Barber and Shelton Smith.

Their daughter has been in the NICU for two weeks.

“She’s getting well taken care of here, so that brings comfort -- to know that the longer she’s here, soon she’ll be able to come home,” Barber said.

There is currently one resident in the program.

The neonatal pharmacy program received accreditation in August through the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Pharmacy staff members worked with the governing body to create standards an accredited program would need after learning one did not previously exist.

The distinction also allows the department to participate in more research.

Women’s Hospital is part of Cone Health.