By Mountain Family Health Centers
When newborn patients are in danger of developing neonatal jaundice, Mountain Family Health Centers providers have faced a challenging prospect. Since late 2017, treatment has only been available at local hospitals, triggering expensive medical bills. But Mountain Family now has a better option: checking out equipment for parents to use in the comfort of their own home… for free.
Dr. Matt Percy recently saw a newborn patient that may have been in danger of developing neonatal jaundice, a condition that can lead to lasting brain damage in some cases. Instead of worrying about requiring a hospital readmission to make sure the child was healthy, Dr. Percy simply prescribed something called a “Bili” blanket. The user-friendly equipment is a light-emitting blanket that helps an infant break down bilirubin in the blood, preventing neonatal jaundice.
“The main benefit that I see is the ease [of using the blanket] to the family,” says Dr. Percy, who is also Site Medical Director for Mountain Family’s Rifle health center. “Having them on the blanket at home versus under the lights in the hospital means there can be more bonding with parents.”
Dr. Percy felt relief knowing that the Bili blanket is free for Mountain Family patients to use, avoiding the time and money it takes for a 1 or 2-day hospital visit. And he knows first-hand what it’s like to use one, because one of his children was treated at home with a Bili blanket when his family lived in Utah.
That savings of time and money for patients is made possible because of support from the nonprofit Newborn Hope in Colorado Springs. The organization generously funded a Bili blanket to support families in the Roaring Fork and Eagle River Valleys as part of its work to provide resources for Colorado babies and families impacted by prematurity.
That support and savings were immediately appreciated by the parents of Dr. Percy’s recent infant patient, according to Storie Evans. Evans is Lead Medical Assistant at the Glenwood Springs health center and oversees sending the Bili blanket home with families.
“The family was very thankful,” says Evans. “They were grateful to be able to use a free resource at home and simply bring it back after a few days.”
Primary Care Physician Dr. Anneliese Heckert, DO, led the effort to obtain a Bili blanket for Mountain Family Health Centers patients, after previous methods of treating neonatal jaundice stopped being available in 2017. Thank you, Dr. Heckert, for your dedication to this issue and thank you, Newborn Hope, for your support for our youngest patients and their families.