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This month in our “Healthcare Matters” column, we focus on healthcare legislation impacting care for our neonatal (newborn) patients.

In 2013, the Texas Legislature passed House Bill 15, which led to the creation of the Perinatal Advisory Council (PAC). The council’s purpose is to develop rules and refine levels of designation for hospitals providing neonatal care. HB 15 created four designation levels for such facilities, with Level IV being the most acute neonatal care provided in the state of Texas.

Throughout the past year, the Perinatal Advisory Council has been working to develop the rules regarding these levels of designation. St. David’s HealthCare has been represented during these discussions by Allen Harrison, CEO of St. David’s North Austin Medical Center.

The proposed rules, and any public comment, are to be finalized and publicly available later this spring. It is the intent of the PAC that these rules be published for over a year prior to their implementation. This would provide facilities ample time to meet any level compliance criteria while collaborating with regional partners.

The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) shall assemble and assign objective survey teams, and hospitals should endeavor to have surveys completed quickly in order to ensure final NICU designations by September 1, 2018. Designations shall be valid for a term of three years. Overall, these rules and designations will ensure that our state’s youngest and most fragile patients receive the best possible care.

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