Story by: David Steen Martin on February 17, 2021
Even when she’s delivering the most advanced care to the sickest babies, Tamina R.B. Singh, M.D., medical director of the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) at Norton Children’s Hospital, never loses sight of the family. She sees how powerless new parents can feel with a child in need of intensive care.
“A big part of our care is for of all us to make them feel they’re still a parent and that baby still belongs to them, so whenever it’s possible, we let them change a diaper, give a bath, just snuggle. All the regular parent things,” Dr. Singh said.
The 101-bed unit at Norton Children’s Hospital is the region’s only NICU that is Level IV — the highest designation possible from the American Academy of Pediatrics. That means Norton Children’s is experienced and able to care for the most complex, critically ill newborns. It is also one of the largest Level IV NICUs in the country.
As medical director, Dr. Singh also collaborates with NICUs at Norton Women’s & Children’s Hospital (Level III), and other local and regional hospitals.
“I really want people in the community to know we have Level III and Level IV units. Folks can sometimes forget we are right here, and we can provide all the services those bigger names can,” she said.
“We see ourselves as a team of 80 physicians, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants,” she said.
A part of the job Dr. Singh relishes is taking care of infants at the Norton Children’s Neonatal Follow-up Clinic, often after they’ve received lifesaving heart surgery. She is motivated by the joy families feel when their babies are healthy enough to go home.
“Being able to see the journey the family has had and all the struggles and the frustration and to see the beautiful child at the end, that’s the piece that makes me so happy,” Dr. Singh said.
Often, families will send Christmas cards and photos from birthdays so Dr. Singh can see her former patients grow and thrive.
The most fragile babies get quality care at top-rated neonatal intensive care units that work in collaboration with Norton Children’s Maternal-Fetal Medicine.
In addition to patient care, Dr. Singh is also involved in research and educating the next generation of doctors and nurses.
Dr. Singh joined the University of Louisville School of Medicine’s Division of Neonatology after completing her fellowship at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in in Ohio in 2007. She is a neonatologist and is director of neonatal cardiovascular services at Norton Children’s.
Dr. Singh was inspired to become a doctor by her own pediatrician as a child in Jamaica.
“She was graceful and kind, and she was beautiful. She dressed so well. I know that sounds silly. She was just the kindest and gentlest person, and I wanted to be just like her. I was 6 when I met her,” Dr. Singh said.
After she became a doctor herself, Dr. Singh had a chance during a trip back to Jamaica to reconnect with her former pediatrician, who was still practicing.
“I got to tell her how much she meant to me and how much she inspired me. You don’t always get to do that with the folks who set your path,” she said.
Dr. Singh attended medical school at the University Hospital of the West Indies, in Kingston, Jamaica, before doing her medical training in pediatrics at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Chicago.
“I moved to the United States for the extra training the U.S. could provide for me. I’m so grateful for that opportunity. I wasn’t planning to stay here,” Dr. Singh said. “Life has different paths for you, sometimes.”
When she’s not working, she and her husband like to run or cook together. She also likes hiking and travel.