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Release Date: 05/16/2016

Neonatologist Betty R. Vohr, MD, medical director of the Neonatal Follow-Up Program in the Department of Pediatrics at Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island and professor of pediatrics at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, was recently inducted into the Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame.

Dr. Vohr has been the director of Women & Infants’ Neonatal Follow-Up Program since 1974, medical director of the Rhode Island Hearing Assessment Program (RIHAP) since 1990, and the national coordinator of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development’s Neonatal Research Network follow-up studies since 1990. Dr. Vohr’s primary clinical and research interests focus on improving the long-term outcomes of high-risk premature infants and infants with hearing loss.

“I have been fortunate to have had a rewarding career in pediatrics and neonatology at Women & Infants, and I have had the privilege of witnessing the remarkable changes in the care of high-risk infants over the past 40 years,” said Dr. Vohr. “There have been amazing strides in the care of low birthweight babies. In 1974, we had one survivor of less than 1,000 grams (2 lbs. 3 oz.); in 2014, we had 108. One of the greatest rewards of doing follow-up for the past 40 years has been witnessing the continued improved outcomes of premature infants.”

In 2015, Dr. Vohr was presented the Stan and Mavis Graven’s Leadership Award for Outstanding Contributions to Enhancing the Physical and Developmental Environment for High-Risk Infants and Their Families. This award is presented annually to an individual who has made a substantial contribution to the health and care of newborns in intensive care facilities.

One of her greatest professional achievements was in bringing forward the issue of universal newborn hearing screening. “Near and dear to my heart is the study that we conducted at Women & Infants that showed the feasibility of newborn hearing screening, resulting in the National Institutes of Health and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommending universal newborn hearing screening in the U.S., with Rhode Island being the first state to comply with these recommendations. Today, more than 98 percent of infants in the U.S. have their hearing screened at birth, and infants with hearing loss now have significantly improved outcomes.”

Dr. Vohr continued, “All of this would not have been possible without a supportive hospital environment, great mentors, and fantastic colleagues.”

The Rhode Island Heritage Hall of Fame was founded in March 1965 “to honor the contributions of those whose efforts, in any line of endeavor, have added significantly to the heritage of the State of Rhode Island.” The Hall of Fame now includes 747 illustrious Rhode Islanders, from Roger Williams and the chief sachems of the Narragansett and Wampanoag tribes to the present.

About Women & Infants Hospital

Women & Infants Hospital of Rhode Island, a Care New England hospital, is one of the nation’s leading specialty hospitals for women and newborns. A major teaching affiliate of The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University for obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics, as well as a number of specialized programs in women’s medicine, Women & Infants is the 12th largest stand-alone obstetrical service in the country and the largest in New England with approximately 8,500 deliveries per year. A Designated Baby-Friendly® USA hospital, U.S.News & World Report 2014-15 Best Children’s Hospital in Neonatology and a 2014 Leapfrog Top Hospital, in 2009 Women & Infants opened what was at the time the country’s largest, single-family room neonatal intensive care unit.

Women & Infants and Brown offer fellowship programs in gynecologic oncology, maternal-fetal medicine, urogynecology and reconstructive pelvic surgery, neonatal-perinatal medicine, pediatric and perinatal pathology, gynecologic pathology and cytopathology, and reproductive endocrinology and infertility. It is home to the nation’s first mother-baby perinatal psychiatric partial hospital, as well as the nation’s only fellowship program in obstetric medicine.

Women & Infants has been designated as a Breast Imaging Center of Excellence by the American College of Radiography; a Center of Excellence in Minimally Invasive Gynecology; a Center of Biomedical Research Excellence by the National Institutes of Health (NIH); and a Neonatal Resource Services Center of Excellence. It is one of the largest and most prestigious research facilities in high risk and normal obstetrics, gynecology and newborn pediatrics in the nation, and is a member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecologic Oncology Group and the Pelvic Floor Disorders Network.
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