Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Bozeman, Helena Hospitals Team Up For Neonatal Care

A newborn baby in a hospital.
A newborn baby in a hospital.

Hospitals in southwest Montana say Helena patients with high-risk pregnancies will soon have access to a new women's and children's health care team from Bozeman.

Babies that get sick or are born premature in Helena will have a closer option for care under the agreement announced Monday between Bozeman Health and St. Peter’s Health.

"One of our overall strategies is to actually leverage a shortage of providers," says Mark Williams, Chief Physician Officer in Bozeman.

Specialized care in Montana is at times hard to come by. Helena doesn’t have a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), but Bozeman Health is building one.

The NICU is part of a new women's and children's tower at Deaconess Hospital in Bozeman, which is planned to open in the fall of 2020.

Officials say the NICU will start with the ability to care for babies born as early as 32 weeks gestation, and quickly transition to offer help to babies born a month earlier than that.

Patients needing that kind of care now have to go to Kalsipell, Missoula, Great Falls or Billings.

Officials with both providers say the agreement is not yet finalized, but that's expected before January when Bozeman health plans to start offering Helena patients tele-health consults on maternal-fetal care.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Corin Cates-Carney is the Flathead Valley reporter for MTPR.