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Neonatal Follow-Up Program

Who are We
The Neonatal Follow-up Program (NFUP) was started in 1983 to collect audit information about quality of survival of categories of high risk infants in the Province of British Columbia. Since then, the ability of the NFUP to expand and move forward is a
result of the exceptional work and dedication of all our team members and their willingness to embrace change. The change has included new staff and various research studies that NFUP has been a part of. 

Evaluating the outcomes of the perinatal / neonatal and specific complex therapies is a primary goal of the Neonatal Follow-Up Program. Unlike other clinical programs, we ask families to bring their children to see us even when there are no concerns. They
return because of the superb care they have received from our clinical team members. 
What do we do
The NFU Program is multidisciplinary and provides comprehensive age appropriate sequential neurodevelopmental assessments at 4, 8, 18 months, 3 years and 4.5 years at clinics on 3 days per week. 

  • To evaluate short and long-term results of perinatal/neonatal intensive care in the Provincial Tertiary Neonatal Intensive Care Units by sequential clinical and neuro-developmental assessment of surviving infants during infancy and early childhood.

  • To ascertain impairment early in this high-risk population to promote early application of interventional techniques to minimize the severity of perinatally acquired disability.

  • To provide an educational experience in developmental assessment and the long-term effects of perinatal/neonatal intensive care for learners in perinatal/neonatal care training programs, as well as learners from Nursing, Physiotherapy,
    Occupational Therapy, Speech& Language Therapy, and Psychology.

  • To promote and carry out research to further knowledge of the long-term effects of selected aspects of perinatal and neonatal management.

  • To co-operate with perinatal follow-up programs across Canada and the U.S. in assessing patients belonging to those programs who move to British Columbia.

Patients are recruited for follow-up based on perinatal/neonatal risk factors. Our recruitment criteria are the most stringent of any Neonatal Follow-Up Program in the country based on budget and space factors affecting our ability to service the patient load. The Follow-Up Program decided to focus on categories of children who were at highest risk of disability or about whom little was known about potential outcomes.

  • Birth weight < 800 grams
  • Gestational age < 25 weeks
  • Intraparenchymal intracranial hemorrhage
  • Periventricular Leukomalacia
  • Severe retinopathy of prematurity (Grade 3 or above or requiring laser treatment)
  • Congenital Diaphragmatic Hernia
  • All patients who received ECLS at BCCH
  • Patients Discharged Home on Oxygen
  • Patients on Funded studies
We see patients referred from other follow-up clinics that have moved to BC, and retain them if they meet our recruitment criteria; otherwise we see them once to make sure they get connected up with appropriate services.

The NFU Program has an almost continuous flow of learners including neonatal fellows, perinatal fellows, developmental pediatric fellows and students in clinical attachments to nursing, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, psychology, speech therapy, audiology and
medical students in Phase IV or an elective.
Staff Profiles
The multidisciplinary team at NFUP includes, Neonatologists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupation Therapists, Speech and Language Therapists, Psychologists, Admin. Assistants and a Data Manager. 

Dr. Michael Fort Whitfield was born in St. Andrews, Scotland October 29, 1946. At the University of Edinburgh, he successfully completed an undergraduate degree in
biochemistry and his medical qualifications and MD degree. He specialized as a paediatrician and did 4 years of research in neonatology before coming to Canada. After
a year in Toronto, in 1981,he established his career as a neonatologist in Vancouver. He was on the frontlines when the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) moved into the new
BC Children’s Hospital on Oak street in 1982 and had the foresight to establish the Neonatal Follow-Up Programme (NFUP) in 1983. It was unknown what the future 
looked like for the extremely low birth weight survivors that were graduating from the NICU. 

2010-2011-NFUP Biennial Report.bmp

Dr. Whitfield dedicated himself to helping these new survivors and their families through multiple challenges and was one of the pioneers who told their stories. He liaised
with the community, talked to the schools and teachers and was always there to listen to the families. Simultaneously, he was working in the NICU as a neonatologist, looking for financial support and writing multiple budgets a year to keep the NFUP running whilst
meticulously documenting the outcomes of these new survivors. The United Way and Sheraton Hotel provided key funding in the early days. While the NFUP was becoming
established on a solid footing, Dr. Whitfield also completed research projects and gave presentations on the outcomes of the new survivors and advanced his academic career.
He was appointed full professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2003. By 2010 he had produced 73 peer reviewed publications, 120 abstracts, 66 presentations, 7
major administrative documents, written 1 book and 4 book chapters and contributed to 37 research grants.

Dr. Whitfield was an amazing mentor to learners at all stages in their training. In 1998 he
became involved in teaching and then chairing the Doctor, Patient and Society (DPAS)
course for medical students at UBC. He taught more than 1550 DPAS students, had 21
graduate students and listened to, counselled and made an impact on countless more

Dr. W-1.jpg

Dr. Whitfield’s achievements and commitment to helping people have been recognized
through many awards:

  • 1994 Golden Rattle Award (mentorship) UBC Department of Paediatrics Residency Training Programme
  • 1998 Special Recognition Award from Canadian Psychiatric Association for educational video about mental health problems in physicians with Dr. M. Myers
  • 2002 Golden Award for Mentorship, Division of Neonatology Fellowship Training Programme
  • Dec 2002 Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for “outstanding services to the children of British Columbia” 
  • 2005 Certificate of Appreciation from UBC Faculty of Medicine MD
  • Undergraduate Programme for “Outstanding Service to the MD Undergraduate Programme as Course Director for Greater DPAS”.
  • 2005 Certificate of Appreciation. Minister of State for Early Childhood Development, Government of BC
  • 2008 Clive Meintjies Award of Excellence for family centred care
As the founding medical director of the Neonatal Follow-Up Program, Dr. Mike Whitfield has seen patients and families, supported the staff and the NFU from it’s start in 1983 until his retirement. We thank Mike for all he has done!


Professional profiles of our multidisciplinary team will be added soon!

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