The community hospital that functions as a level three referral center for neonatal intensive care is the optimal setting for long term follow-up studies of sick neonates. The Regional Newborn Extension Program was started at Monmouth Medical Center in 1977 with the objective of early identification and intervention of neurodevelopmental disabilities in a population of high risk newborns discharged from the Intensive Care Unit.
With the support of the Crippled Children's Program and The Division of Maternal and Child Health in New Jersey, full multidisciplined (neurologic, ophthalmologic, orthopedic and psychologic) evaluations were performed on 220 patients in 1977, without charge. This model program hopes to demonstrate the cost effectiveness of neonatal follow up care and to ultimately include follow up as an integral part of hospital services for the high risk infants.
By using all of the available community agencies and reporting data promptly after each examination at three month intervals to local pediatricians in a two county area, the Extension Program has become a medical resource to the entire community, as well as a vehicle for clinical research and epidemiological studies.