NEWPORT NEWS – Riverside Regional Medical Center is the only hospital in Virginia to be recognized for efforts to protect newborns from a potentially chronic virus.

The facility was recently named to the Hepatitis B Birth Dose Honor Roll by the Immunization Action Coalition, a group that works with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to promote immunization.
RRMC’s hepatitis B vaccination rate for babies born at the hospital in 2013 was 96 percent. Of the remaining 4 percent, some parents declined the shot.

“We’re very happy,” said Dr. Elias Tessema, a neonatologist on the RRMC Women & Infant Care Unit. He said the facility has made the vaccinations a priority over the last several years. “Every baby, when they are admitted, gets an order for the shot.”
Ticorea Williams, nurse-manager for the Women & Infant Care Unit, credits strong processes for the achievement. Nurses actually begin talking to families about the vaccination even before the baby is born. “It is one of the first things that we do,” Williams said. “We want to make sure it’s not missed.”

All babies should receive their first shot of hepatitis B vaccine before they leave the hospital, according to CDC guidelines. This reduces the risk of getting the disease from moms or family members who may not know they are infected.

RRMC is also committed to protecting babies of moms known to have hepatitis B. A different vaccine is administered in those cases. “We’re trying to prevent the baby from getting hepatitis B from the mother,” Dr. Tessema said.

“Hospitals and birthing centers have a responsibility to protect babies from life-threatening hepatitis B infection,” said Deborah Wexler, MD, executive director and founder of IAC. “Riverside Regional Medical Center’s commitment to the best practice of hepatitis B vaccination at birth has shown them to be a leader in preventing the transmission of the hepatitis B virus.”

Riverside hospitals have focused on processes, with an eye on consistency and improvement, to make sure patients get everything they need. This helps us deliver the Riverside Care Difference, our commitment to keep patients safe, help them heal, be kind and respect their wishes.

Published: May 20, 2014