Ascension Providence expands care for premature babies in Central Texas

Woman leading team has years of experience caring for critically-ill newborns in Austin
Published: Feb. 22, 2022 at 6:41 PM CST
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - Families of babies born premature in Central Texas now have another option for specialized care locally as Ascension Providence is expanding its neonatology program with the addition of five full-time neonatal nurse practitioners.

A neonatal nurse practitioner is an advanced practice registered nurse who provides primary, acute, chronic, and critical care to newborns, infants, and toddlers through age two.

Ascension Providence’s NNP team is supervised by board-certified neonatologists specially trained to care for premature and critically ill newborns 24 hours a day.

These neonatologists care for infants at the Level IV NICU at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Austin.

“The neonatal nurse practitioners have the expertise and experience to lead advanced care for newborns and work collaboratively with our entire care team in the NICU,” said Philip Patterson, president of Ascension Providence. “The addition of these exceptional providers is an exciting step towards expanding Ascension Providence’s world-class care in Waco.”

The expansion is much needed as the Centers for Disease Control estimates that one in every ten infants born in the United States each year is premature.

These neonatal nurse practitioners will help recognize, evaluate, and stabilize newborns with unexpected health complications, as well as help educate families about newborn care and needs.

“Our team provides unparalleled care for mothers with a fragile baby,” said Dr. Katherine Simon, Neonatal Medical Director at Ascension Providence. “Neonatal nurse practitioners are well equipped to provide specialized care for the tiniest patients experiencing a wide range of health issues.”

Megan Fortenberry, leading the team as the NNP Director at Ascension Providence, has years of experience taking care of critically ill newborns in Austin. She said there’s nothing like providing care close to home.

Megan Fortenberry is leading the team as the NNP Director at Ascension Providence.
Megan Fortenberry is leading the team as the NNP Director at Ascension Providence.(Courtesy Photo)

“Our core unit of nurse practitioners that we have here, we are actually all here within the Waco and surrounding areas with our families,” Fortenberry said. “We have been choosing to commute down to work within the Dell Children’s Medical System in Austin, but we are now here to stay, as well, and it’s been a wonderful addition just for us to be able to be close to our family, but also to be able be able to give back and serve our community members, too.”

NNP Kourtney Hennigan says she’s grateful for the opportunity to care of local families during some of their most difficult times.

“I am grateful to be a part of this community. The NICU world is small, literally and figuratively,” Hennigan said. “I love getting to know the families. They trust us to take care of their most precious and vulnerable family members and it’s such an honor.”

The Ascension Providence Women’s and Newborn Center is a Level II NICU for babies born premature, after 32 weeks.

McLane Children’s NICU at Baylor Scott and White Temple as well as Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest also both offer specialized neonatal care.

McLane Children’s NICU in Temple is the region’s only Level 4 NICU between Dallas and Austin and Baylor Scott & White Hillcrest in Waco is a Level 3.

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