The history of neonatal care in Martin has an almost 100-year tradition. During and after the second World War this care was being offered by the Department of Gynaecology and Obstetrics. At this time, Dr. Zdenka Novotná, had been stationed at the OB-GYN department as the head physician of the neonatology ward since 1959 until 1985. With her exceptional devotion and selfless work, she laid the foundation of neonatal care in Martin. The Neonatology Department became separate in 1991, led by Dr. Eva Hlaučová as the Head of Department, with Mrs. Filoména Kopčanová as the Head Nurse, along with the establishment of a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. The growing department was gradually able to take in new doctors (Dr. Zuzana Strechová, Dr. Ingrid Krausová, Dr. Katarína Pivková).
Preterm infant care was being carried out according to the current management concepts at the Infant Asylum working as the Regional stationary for premature newborns. It had been established in 1956, boasting a 44 bed capacity, taking in patients from the Žilina region. The post of the aslyum’s director had initially belonged to Dr. Zdenka Novotná, who later became the head doctor of the Neonatology ward at the Martin hospital. In the years 1959-1970, the preterm infant department had been led by Dr. Jiřina Pižlová, and in 1970-1986 Dr. Ľudmila Zavarská took over. Under her management, the department was reconstructed and technically modernized.
With the development of medical knowledge, individual skills, technological advances, the demands on offered medical care grew as well. Neonatology was authorized as a medical specialty, and Dr Jozef Valenta became the Head of the Department in 1986 (Mrs. Ľudmila Mlynarčíková as the Head Nurse). During his time, patient transfer services underwent a radical rework, the Department of Resuscitation and Intensive Neonatal Care and Special Care Nursery were established, along with the bettering of the technical equipment (ventilators, CPAP, portable X-ray, ultrasound scanner, pulse oximeters, IV pumps and perfusors, blood pressure monitors, etc.). The medical team was steadily gaining forces, joined by Dr. Jarmila Obluková, Dr. Janka Hudecová, Dr. Martin Čiljak, Dr. Ľubica Uhrínová, Dr. Katarína Porubčanská, and Dr. Zuzana Macková.
With the increase in expertise and technology in neonatal care, infant mortality gradually decreased. The care for premature newborns began focusing on the follow-up and rehabilitation therapy. In 1990, as a part of the department, the Risk Newborn Care and Development Outpatient Office was established, ensuring proper developmental observation and coordinated complex follow-up care for these infants. The demand for an inpatient rehabilitation ward for patients born premature had been answered in 1993, when it was set up in the former Infant Asylum building, led by a rehabilitation expert. In line of bettering the complex care, a special care pedagogy professional and a pediatric psychologist were employed.
In an effort to further improve the offered care, the Special Care Nursery along with the outpatient office were transferred from the former Infant Asylum (already in use as an orphanage), into the Martin Faculty Hospital. This was initiated by the Head of the Obstetrics and Gynaecology Department, professor Dr. Ján Danko, CSc., thanks to whom a new neonatology department was formed in the building of his clinic in 1998. Dr. Jozef Valenta became the head of this new Neonatology Department of the Martin Faculty Hospital, with Bc. Marta Kantárová as the Head Nurse. With this step, the care for both healthy and sick infants was integrated together as a whole.
On 5th of March 2002, the Neonatology Clinic of the Jessenius Medical Faculty and Martin Faculty Hospital rose from the foundations of the old Neonatology Department. Professor Dr. Mirko Zibolen was determined as the first head of the newly established clinic. The workload and organization of the clinic shifted and aside from medical and preventive care, medical faculty student education and scientific research emerged into the forefront. The workplace gained accreditation for specialty education in neonatology in 2010. The scientific research conducted was closely tied in cooperation with the OB-GYN clinic, Medical Physiology Department, and Molecular Biology Department of the Jessenius Medical Faculty of the Comenius University. Since 2003 a now regular nationwide conference has been taking place annualy – The Martin Neonatology Days, with the focus on practical neonatology care. The clinic offers pre-gradual medical education in both Slovak and English, in subjects of Neonatal propaedeutics, Neonatology, Pediatric propaedeutics, Pediatrics, and for non-medical fields of study – Midwifery and Nursing.
The workplace led by the professor – who later became the chairman of the expert committee and the head expert for the Slovak Ministry of Health – turned into an influential clinic in Slovakia widely accepted abroad as well. In a short span of time the clinic produced multiple doctoral study postgraduates (Dr. Miroslav Stavěl, PhD., Dr. Hana Kolarovszká, PhD., Dr. Katarína Maťašová, PhD., Dr. Zuzana Lehotská, PhD., Dr. Lucia Časnocha Lúčanová, PhD., Dr. Zuzana Uhríková, PhD., Dr. Eva Paulusová, PhD., Dr. Katarína Hašková, PhD., and Dr. Barbora Zoľáková, PhD.). Many of them stayed to work at the clinic. Since 2009 primary physician Dr. Katarína Maťašová, PhD. took the position of the Deputy Head of Department, and became an Associate Professor in 2013. In 2009-2017 Dr. Hana Kolarovszká, PhD. worked as the Deputy Head of Education.
The Neonatology clinic ensures diagnostic, therapeutic, and preventive medical practice in the entire extent of neonatal care. It offers the highest level of intensive and resuscitation care for all neonates from the northern Slovakia, while often taking in patients from other regions as well. Aside from healthy infants it accommodates critically ill premature and extremely premature newborn, and newborns with postnatal adaptation issues and severe perinatal infections. The clinic’s employees also offer preoperative, perioperative, and postoperative care for newborns with surgical emergencies and all congenital disorders except congenital heart defects and congenital disorders of metabolism. The clinic has virtually all noninvasive and invasive diagnostic and therapeutic procedures at hand, with the medical personnel possessing erudite theoretical knowledge and great practical skills.
The clinic is organized into several wards and units –the Well Newborn Nursery, the Special Care Nursery, the Neonatal Resuscitation Intensive Care Unit, and the Highly Specialized Neonatal Care Unit, with the Risk Newborn Care and Development Outpatient Office as a crucial part of the clinic.
Staff-wise, the position of a medical doctor requires the highest qualification in the structure of Slovak neonatology departments. The clinic employs 11 physicians, with one Professor and one Associate Professor of Paediatrics, seven physicians with a doctorate (titled as PhD.) in paediatrics, and additional 3-5 medical doctors undergoing their postgraduate doctoral study. The nursing staff consists of 46 nurses, seven of which are 2nd degree university graduates (Mgr.), and thirteen have 1st degree university education (Bc.). The quality of work has been confirmed and documented via internationally accepted degrees – ‘Baby Friendly Hospital’ since 2010, and the Basal Stimulation Concept Certificate since 2014.