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Cullman Regional to establish Level II nursery as part of OB expansion

CULLMAN — There are some new arrivals at Cullman Regional.

Only they’re not being delivered by the stork.

The hospital is expanding obstetric and nursery services with the addition of a fourth OB GYN physician, six neonatologists and four neonatal nurse practitioners to its medical staff. The new neonatology providers will offer around-the-clock care to babies born at Cullman Regional beginning this summer.

Neonatology is a medical specialty for the care of newborn babies, especially those who are  critically ill and/or premature. Having this higher level of care available at Cullman Regional will enable the hospital to transition its nursery from a Level I Well Baby Nursery to a Level II Special Care Nursery.

The Alabama Department of Public Health defines a Level II nursery as a specialty nursery which includes equipment and staff that can support slightly underdeveloped or  somewhat sick babies who are expected to get well quickly. 

“Our maternity nursing team has some of the most experienced nurses in our health system,” said Charna Brown, chief nursing officer. “Becoming a Special Care Nursery is a natural progression for us as our capabilities and services grow.” 

Dr. Hannah Hightower, who is board certified in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine, will serve as medical director of the Cullman Regional nursery.

Dr. Hannah Hightower

Renovations of the hospital’s nursery were recently completed to provide patients and the new neonatology team an updated, spacious area that will better accommodate the Level II Special Care Nursery. 

Cullman Regional’s OB expansion started last summer with the addition of three OB-GYN  physicians to its employed physician group. These physicians had been delivering babies at the hospital through an independent practice but, with changes to that multi-specialty clinic, they needed a new home. 

“These doctors are well established in Cullman and care for thousands of patients,” said Lisa Courtney, vice president of physician services. “It was important that they did not leave the community, so we worked to create an opportunity for them to stay.” 

Dr. Lance Justice

When Dr. Lance Justice relocated his practice from Marshall County this month, he became the fourth OB-GYN physician to join the hospital’s employed physician group in less than one year. 

“I’m excited to be a part of the growth at Cullman Regional,” he said. “I appreciate a hospital system that is willing to invest in patient care and give attention to important details.” 

The health system’s decision to invest and grow the OB program is in stark contrast to the  recent OB closures at three Alabama hospitals. The expanded services will help ensure women in the area continue to have local access to prenatal care and a hospital-based birth center with advanced newborn care. 

“Cullman Regional is committed to providing quality women’s health services,” said CEO James Clements. “We’ve been focused on expanding local access to healthcare in our region for years and this is an example of how we are continuing that mission.” 

With population growth in the region expected to continue, the health system continues to  recruit physicians and other healthcare professionals to help meet the obstetric needs of the multiple communities it serves. 

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