Olathe Health has collaborated with Children’s Mercy, the only Level IV neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) within a 200-mile radius, so newborns in need of higher-level, specialized care can stay at Olathe Medical Center’s The Birth Place.
Beginning May 1, Children’s Mercy will provide care for the most complex and critically ill newborns in Olathe Medical Center’s Level II NICU. Children’s Mercy Neonatal Nurse Practitioners will provide on-site support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. A neonatologist will make daily rounds and be on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Jessica Brunkhorst, MD, will serve as the medical director for Olathe Medical Center’s NICU. Dr. Brunkhorst is a neonatologist at Children’s Mercy and assistant professor of pediatrics at the University of Missouri, Kansas City, School of Medicine.
As medical director, she will be working in the community she calls home. Dr. Brunkhorst grew up in Platte City, Missouri and has lived in Olathe for the past seven years.
“I find it personally rewarding to be able to take care of newborns in the community where I live,” said Dr. Brunkhorst. “I was excited when I learned about the opportunity knowing that Olathe Health is focused on family-centered care, since families are a very critical part of our team.”
Dr. Brunkhorst first explored the possibility of becoming a neonatologist when she was just 13 years old.
“I was my aunt’s labor coach and watching the birth of my cousin was quite impressionable – I knew I wanted to be a doctor.”
After high school, Dr. Brunkhorst enrolled in the UMKC School of Medicine’s B.A./M.D. six-year program. She toyed around briefly with becoming an obstetrician during medical school but found herself always gravitating back to the babies.
“I love the critical care aspect of neonatology. My teenage self - had no idea what she was getting herself into.”
Dr. Brunkhorst completed her residency at Children’s Mercy before accepting a full-time position with the only pediatric health system in the region. She has since completed the bioethics certificate program and is an advocate of simulation work.
“I’m really impressed with the simulation equipment at Olathe Health. We’ve started to do outreach with other community hospitals, so I’m hoping to continue that effort in Olathe.”
When at home, Dr. Brunkhorst spends time with her husband Josh and their two sons, 7-year-old Carson and 9-year-old Blake. Both boys are always eager to learn about their mom’s workday.
“Our usual dinner conversation is ‘mom, how many babies did you fix today?’ I am so fortunate that now I get to help even more newborns right here in my own backyard. This is a great opportunity and I’m thrilled to join the Olathe Health team.”
To learn more about the NICU services at Olathe Medical Center, visit olathehealth.org/neonatology.
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