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Kalispell Regional Healthcare

Our Team

Neonatal Intensive Care Unit
Neonatologists Dr. Mark Kaneta and Dr. Kristin Veneman are both board certified with extensive background and experience in the field of neonatology. A neonatologist provides comprehensive care for critically ill premature and full-term infants from birth until discharge from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). A neonatologist is available 24 hours a day to care for sick infants in the hospital, as well as to provide expert consultation for physicians in outlying areas who may have questions about patients they are caring for or those who need transfer to a higher level of care. Our neonatologists also use telemedicine to provide guidance during emergency situations and face-to-face consults for several smaller facilities that do not offer NICU services.
 

Mark Kaneta, MD

Neonatology
Kalispell Regional Medical Center
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Kristin Veneman, DO, FACOP

Neonatology
Kalispell Regional Medical Center
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Registered nurses with special training in caring for sick newborns are responsible for total care of infants who may be diagnosed with congenital defects, delivery complications or, most often, prematurity. These nurses develop care plans for each infant and assess, plan, implement and evaluate the effectiveness of the plans. On a daily basis, they administer medications, perform complex procedures, use complicated technology and work very closely with all other hospital departments to coordinate the special care needed for these very special patients.

Respiratory therapists at KRMC are experts in caring for neonates with compromised respiratory status. In collaboration with physicians and nurses, respiratory therapists are responsible for therapeutic processes including:
  • Attendance at high-risk deliveries
  • Respiratory medication administration
  • Oxygen therapy
  • Intubation
  • Surfactant administration
  • Ventilator management, including invasive and noninvasive ventilation as well as with high-frequency ventilation
  • Nitric oxide administration
  • Patient transport, both within the hospital and between facilities
Pharmacists in the NICU must deal with the challenge of treating the most vulnerable patients. In addition to providing information and drugs, they must be true experts in the use of medicines to attend the needs of sick or premature babies. Pharmacists are on-site 24 hours a day to ensure that vital medications are available at all times for our patients in the NICU.

Dieticians, after consulting with other members of the NICU team and reviewing the baby's medical condition, determine what nutrients and supplements – minerals, vitamins, fat, carbohydrates and proteins – it needs. Some neonates have immature digestive systems that make tube or intravenous feeding necessary. The neonatal dietitian then prepares a tailored nutritional care regimen that takes into consideration the feeding method, any medications being administered and nutrition requirements. Our dieticians monitor the length and head circumference of each infant on a weekly basis and make suggestions for any feeding changes that might improve growth. They also educate families about nutritional needs after discharge from the NICU.

Speech language pathologists assess sucking, oral strength and swallowing coordination, and help make a plan with parents to make feeding a pleasurable experience for them as well as for baby. Eating is one of the most difficult skills infants must learn, and they can have difficulty being able to successfully eat if they are not given the support they need. Services provided include:
  • Prefeeding consultations
  • Oral motor and stimulation programs
  • Feeding evaluation and modifications
  • Feeding intervention
  • Parent and caregiver education
Physical therapists evaluate and work with NICU babies to help provide developmentally appropriate positioning and activities. Our physical therapists are strong proponents of skin-to-skin time, and they also offer infant massage training to all NICU parents to encourage bonding and loving touch.

Lactation consultants are available seven days a week to assist mothers with breastfeeding. Breast milk is proven to be the best food for newborns, especially premature infants. It is well tolerated by the immature digestive system and provides a host of defenses against infection. Until the infant is stable enough to nurse at the breast, pumping and storing the milk for future use is strongly encouraged. Even before the baby is ready to eat, the breast milk can be used to swab the inside of the baby's mouth to provide the pleasurable taste and introduce the infection-fighting components of the milk. Once the baby is ready, the lactation nurse can provide assistance with latch, positioning and assessing feeding success.

Social workers meet with all families that have a baby in the NICU. A NICU stay can be one of the most stressful and traumatic things to happen to a family. Whether a family knows they might be headed for the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit or if it’s a complete surprise, they quickly discover that the NICU is a world unlike any other. Fortunately our social workers are here to help families navigate this journey. They are knowledgeable about resources available in the community to help with financial support, housing, transportation and other needs, and they also assist with discharge planning.