Will Rogers Institute Donation a Gift to Tiny Patients and their Parents at Providence Tarzana Medical Center

March 29, 2012

The new mother clutched in her lap gifts wrapped in baby blue as Dad wheeled her to the family car. One son in tow carried a bouquet of balloons announcing “It’s a Boy.” But the couple’s other son remained behind, a tiny patient in the neonatal ICU at Providence Tarzana Medical Center.

The scene this week was especially poignant because a small crowd that parted to make way for this small parade had gathered to celebrate the Will Rogers Institute’s donation of $49,000 to buy new ventilators for the hospital’s NICU, which cares for the most fragile of infants.

“Years ago we used adult ventilators on babies,” said neonatologist James Banks, M.D., medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit at Providence Tarzana. “This new equipment is a much gentler system for the lungs, and much better for long-term health of our NICU patients. Our entire team thanks you – the physicians, nurses, therapists and everyone who works in our NICU.”

“We do so appreciate this gift,” added Dale Surowitz, chief executive of Providence Tarzana Medical Center. “Your assistance will help us greatly improve the care to this very vulnerable population.”

The Will Rogers Institute is a program of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, a charity named for the entertainer, a great humanitarian and philanthropist. The Will Rogers Institute is a national charitable health program focused on research of debilitating lung disorders, medical school training fellowships, distribution of free health education materials to the general public and now NICU equipment.

Presenting the donation to Providence Tarzana were Jeffrey Goldstein, executive vice president and general sales manager of Warner Bros. Pictures, and chairman of the board of the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation; Todd Vradenburg, executive director of the Will Rogers foundation; and Pat Samuelson, the foundation’s general manager.

The group visited the hospital’s 21-bed NICU where Dr. Banks illustrated how the special ventilators gently deliver oxygen to the infant’s lungs. Goldstein told the group about his organization’s effort to provide NICU equipment to ensure hospitals have the latest technology to help premature infants and others in need of special help. The group was gratified to learn of the NICU “graduates” who come back to visit years after their stays at Providence Tarzana.

The institute’s donation will fund three ventilators and two machines that monitor C02 in the infant’s bloodstream utilizing an external probe to avoid frequent blood tests.

This equipment is less cumbersome than older styles and allows parents to hold their babies close for that invaluable bonding time, Dr. Banks said.

Previously, the NICU shared equipment with the pediatric ICU or even rented it when needed. Having new ventilators at hand will be a godsend, said Tamera Martin, RN., nurse manager of the NICU.

The Providence Tarzana Foundation is in the midst of a capital campaign, working with the community it serves to upgrade its Level III NICU, Pediatrics Department and its noted San Fernando Valley Heart Institute.