Monmouth Medical Center’s Unterberg Children’s Hospital Marks 15th Anniversary as Licensed Children’s Hospital

One of The Unterberg Children’s Hospital signature programs is its newborn critical care program, with NICU survival rates that are among the best in the country

Long Branch, NJ, December 29, 2020 December 2020 marks the 15th anniversary of Monmouth Medical Center’s Unterberg Children’s Hospital’s designation as a licensed Children’s Hospital for New Jersey.

“It’s been an exciting decade and a half of providing our community with the highest-quality pediatric services,” says Margaret C. Fisher, MD, who recently stepped down as Medical Director of The Unterberg Children’s Hospital and who led it from the start. In December, Dr. Fisher began her new role as Special Advisor to the New Jersey Commissioner of Health, and serves as Director of the Office of Pandemic Response, and will help with the state’s rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. She is staying on board at Monmouth Medical Center and the RWJBarnabas Health system as the Medical Director of Clinical and Academic Excellence.

“Becoming a children’s hospital was a huge milestone for us,” continues Dr. Fisher, a renowned pediatric infectious disease expert. “Since then we’ve grown and expanded our staff and services to meet the community’s needs.” The hospital, located in Long Branch, has 140 pediatric specialists in 26 fields of medicine.

One of The Unterberg Children’s Hospital signature programs is its newborn critical care program. Monmouth was the first hospital in New Jersey and one of the first community hospitals in the country to establish a neonatal intensive care unit in 1968. Today the state-designated Level III NICU treats more than 550 infants each year, offering the full range of pre- and perinatal services. “Our NICU’s survival rates are among the best in the country,” says Dr. Fisher.

Another area of excellence is the hospital’s Comprehensive Cystic Fibrosis Center, which includes both pediatric and adult programs. “As cystic fibrosis treatment has advanced, more children with CF are thriving and living into adulthood,” says Dr. Fisher. “We offer an exceptional transition program for adolescents who can then age into our adult care model.”

The hospital’s pediatric services have evolved to meet the changing needs of patients and families, notes Jonathan Teitelbaum, M.D., Chief of Pediatric Gastroenterology and Interim Chair of Pediatrics at Monmouth.

“The management of asthma, diarrhea, dehydration, and other conditions has improved over the last 15 years, and effective new vaccines have further reduced illness and pediatric hospital admissions,” Dr. Teitelbaum says. “On the other hand, with greater awareness of mental health issues, more children are being diagnosed with psychiatric disorders. As a result psychiatric hospital admissions have increased. We’ve grown our inpatient and outpatient services to address this need.”

Unterberg’s Children’s Crisis Intervention Service is the only state-designated center for Monmouth and Ocean counties providing inpatient treatment for children and adolescents with acute emotional, behavioral or psychological disorders. The hospital’s psychiatric unit is equal in size to its general pediatric unit. “We have many effective new medications in our arsenal to help these children,” states Dr. Fisher.

Additionally, The Unterberg Children’s Hospital recently expanded its Pediatric Neurology Program at the Unterberg Children’s Hospital and welcomed two experienced pediatric neurologists, both of whom are board certified in epilepsy. The hospital’s Epilepsy Monitoring Program, which was introduced in December 2010, offers state-of-the-art equipment that allows for continuous video-EEG monitoring — the gold standard diagnostic investigation that can improve diagnostic accuracy when the diagnosis of epilepsy, particular seizure type, or location of onset is not clear by routine or prolonged EEG recordings.

Rounding out the hospital’s high-quality offerings are programs in pediatric cancer, orthopedics, and surgery. It is one of eight hospitals in the tristate area with a Valerie Fund Children’s Center, which provides compassionate, family-centered care for children with cancer and blood disorders. The pediatric surgery team has expertise in the diagnosis and management of a variety of disorders, from birth defects to trauma. The hospital is one of the few in the area to offer video assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS) for diseases of the lung and esophagus.

Nearby, a Ronald McDonald House provides accommodations for families of seriously ill children who are being treated the hospital. “In fact, our ‘house’ consists of two houses, one in Long Branch and the other in New Brunswick, across the street from The Bristol Myers Squibb Children’s Hospital,” says Dr. Fisher.

On the education front, The Unterberg Children’s Hospital has an excellent pediatric residency program. It is also a Touchpoints Training Center. Founded by pediatrician T. Berry Brazelton, MD, Touchpoints applies principles of early childhood development to pediatric practice and policy. This unique way of providing care taps into the strengths of children and families.

“We’re proud of our impact on the children and families we care for, the childhood diseases we treat, and the physicians we train,” notes Dr. Fisher. “And we are well prepared for the challenges of the next 15 years.”

Contact: Kathy Horan