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Welcome Home Times Three! High-Risk Mother-Baby Care Close to Home

Monday, August 08, 2011 - Danbury, CT

Giving birth poses enough challenges without the added stress of traveling long distances for perinatal and neonatal care. So when Alison and Tyler Bergemann of New Milford learned they were having triplets, they wanted to “stay as local as possible” without sacrificing quality of care.

Today the healthy triplets – Madison Grace (2 lb. 10 oz), Mackenzie Faith (2 lb. 7 oz.) and Zachary (2 lb. 13.5 oz) – are thriving thanks to the expert teamwork between their community obstetrician, John Sussman, MD, of New Milford, and the specialized team of maternal-fetal medicine physicians, neonatologists and nurses at Danbury Hospital.

Alison gave birth at 29 weeks at Danbury Hospital where the babies spent many weeks in the Level IIIB Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). “I love motherhood,” said Allison, whose husband is a lieutenant in the Danbury Fire Department. “I can’t imagine my life without the three of them.”

Specialized mother-baby care close to home

The Bergemanns had access to all the mother-baby services they needed close to home through Western Connecticut Health Network , a new healthcare delivery system that combines the resources and expertise of both New Milford Hospital and Danbury Hospital. The affiliation comes just as Danbury Hospital has strengthened its spectrum of mother-baby care services and opens a new, state-of-the-art NICU with private rooms for newborns and their families.

For years, Dr. Sussman and other community physicians have relied on institutions across the state – many a good distance from New Milford - on a case-by-case basis to accommodate women with high-risk pregnancies and their newborns. “Now our privileges at Danbury Hospital are permanent, so we know that the mother-baby services our patients need will always be available,” he said. “We’re in direct contact with the perinatal and neonatal teams. We never had that kind of access before – it’s one of the major benefits of the new affiliation.”

For patients, having a wider network of providers through WCHN means:

• Pregnant women can stay under the care of their local obstetrician in New Milford or elsewhere and access specialized maternal fetal medicine and intensive neonatal care at Danbury Hospital, if needed. “We want to make mother-baby care as seamless as possible so women receiving their primary obstetrical care in their own community don’t need to transfer all of their care to Danbury Hospital just because they need our high-risk services,” said Matthew Kim, MD, Division Director of Maternal-Fetal Medicine and Medical Director of Labor and Delivery at Danbury Hospital.

• Enhanced communication among caregivers enables the multidisciplinary team of obstetricians, maternal-fetal medicine physicians, anesthesiologists, nurses and other healthcare professionals to deliver streamlined, coordinated care and intervene quickly, if necessary, to ensure the well-being of pregnant women and their babies. “We’re able to continuously monitor the health of a pregnant woman while at the same time monitoring the development of the fetus throughout the pregnancy,” said Dr. Kim. “We offer a higher level of care normally only seen at large urban institutions.”

• If necessary, women with high-risk pregnancies can deliver at Danbury Hospital – the same hospital where their babies can receive specialized neonatal care. “There are enough sources of anxiety dealing with a high-risk pregnancy without the added stress of having the babies transferred to an institution in another part of the state or even across town,” said Dr. Sussman.

A triple blessing

Having undergone in vitro fertilization to become pregnant, the Bergemanns “weren’t too surprised” when doctors heard two fetal heartbeats. But when a subsequent ultrasound revealed three heartbeats, “we were speechless,” she said. “It took a few days for the news to sink in. We feel blessed.” Dr. Sussman immediately referred the couple to the maternal-fetal medicine experts at Danbury Hospital.

“Any time you have multiple babies such as triplets, the potential perinatal risks are significant. Without good communication, the chance that Mother Nature will complicate matters or that caregivers won’t provide the right care increases,” said Dr. Kim. “Since the affiliation, Danbury Hospital physicians and community physicians have been discussing ways to manage high-risk pregnancies. In the Bergemann case, everything worked out beautifully.”

Alison was thrilled with the care she received from the perinatal team. “Dr. Kim was caring, informative and encouraging,” she said. “There were times when I was scared. But Dr. Kim talked me through everything, giving me hope that I would have a somewhat normal pregnancy even though I was having multiples.”

Turning point

For the Bergemanns, the turning point came at 28 weeks when one of Alison’s amniotic membranes broke. Following an examination by Dr. Sussman at New Milford Hospital, Alison was transferred by ambulance to Danbury Hospital, where she stayed for one week under the close supervision of Dr. Kim in the hopes of delaying a delivery as long as possible. “Every day the baby spends inside the mother’s womb is crucial to the baby’s development,” said Dr. Kim.

But once Alison’s two other amniotic membranes broke, the “medical team decided together that it was time to deliver the babies,” said Dr. Sussman, who performed the Caesarean procedure at Danbury Hospital. “The neonatal intensive care team was standing by to immediately take the babies to the NICU so they could be evaluated and cared for.”

Expert care at family-friendly NICU

Zachary spent 53 days in the NICU, while his sisters came home after 69 days. “It took a long time for the babies to overcome all the issues that premature babies deal with,” said Dr. Sussman. “But they were under the care of an excellent team of neonatologists and nurses. The babies are all doing well now without any of the sequela of being born premature.”

For the Bergemann family, the NICU became a “home away from home” with a team of healthcare professionals who provided expert medical care, along with guidance and emotional support. “They really went above and beyond the call of duty,” said Alison. “You can tell that the doctors and nurses really enjoy what they do. Our experience in the NICU was phenomenal.”

The opening of an $8 million state-of-the-art NICU this summer will only enhance the experience for newborns and their families, said Edward James, MD, the unit’s medical director. “The family-friendly design includes private rooms for each newborn with space and amenities to accommodate parents who wish to stay with their babies overnight or a few days in a row,” he said. “Studies show babies thrive best when they have contact with their parents. We do everything possible to support the entire family.”

 For more information on Danbury Hospital’s NICU visit the website

About Western Connecticut Health Network

Western Connecticut Health Network is a patient-centered health care organization established in 2010 by two nationally recognized hospitals, Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital and their affiliated organizations, to provide the highest level of care to patients throughout Western Connecticut and adjacent New York. In addition to the two hospitals, other network affiliates include:

• an integrated physician practice with primary and specialty care expertise

• an agency for home care and community health services • a full-service retail pharmacy located at Danbury Hospital

• emergency medical services

• an occupational wellness and medicine program, providing services for business and industry

Western Connecticut Health Network has centers of excellence in Women’s, neonatal, cardiovascular and cancer services; weight loss and orthopedic surgery; digestive disorders and radiology and diagnostic imaging. It also offers specialized programs for sleep disorders and asthma management. Both hospitals also maintain active clinical research programs, offering clinical trials for patients with cancer and other health concerns.

For more information, visit

About Danbury Hospital

Danbury Hospital is a 371-bed regional medical center and university teaching hospital associated with the University of Vermont College of Medicine, the Yale University School of Medicine, the Connecticut School of Medicine and Columbia University Medical Center. The hospital is nationally recognized as a tertiary health care center with an innovative high-tech, high-touch environment and is also a member of the Planetree organization. In addition to offering the latest robotic and minimally invasive surgical and imaging technology, it was the first hospital in Connecticut to adopt electronic health records systems. It offers a Level II Trauma Center and Level IIIb Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Medical staff members are board-certified in their specialties, and most serve as faculty members of the nation’s finest university medical centers offering a higher level of experience.

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About New Milford Hospital

New Milford Hospital is a Planetree organization dedicated to patient-centered care that nurtures every patient's body, mind and spirit. The Hospital has an extraordinary tradition of warm and caring personal attention backed by top-notch physicians, world-class technology and the newest, most advanced diagnostic and treatment options available. Your healthcare team of highly trained physicians, nurses, technicians and administrators is determined and committed to improving the health and quality of life of those we serve. For more information, visit and share your comments with us