For the past two decades, the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center has been delivering high-quality, safe, and patient-centered care for babies in our community.
This care is made possible by a talented team of board-certified physicians, certified neonatal nurse practitioners, and specialized neonatal nurses who work in coordination with a multi-disciplinary team that is committed to providing the highest standard of care in a clean, safe, and compassionate environment for critically ill newborns.
Learn more about our staff members:
Fernando V. Mena, MD, FAAP, is Chairman of Pediatrics and Chief of Neonatology at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center. He is board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics in Pediatrics and Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine.
A graduate of the University of Chile School of Medicine in Santiago, Chile, Dr. Mena completed his fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine and pediatric residency at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Before coming to MedStar Franklin Square, Dr. Mena served as the medical director of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit at the University of Maryland Medical Center, at that time, a 40-bed level IV unit.
Brain damage of the developing brain has been one of Dr. Mena’s interests. Before coming to MedStar Franklin Square, he chaired the development of the Hypothermia Program for Neonatal Encephalopathy at the University of Maryland, a novel therapy for newborns with hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy. Since joining our NICU, Dr. Mena’s focus has been quality improvement in women’s and children’s health care, an utmost priority at MedStar Franklin Square. Under his leadership, the rates of some of the most serious complications of prematurity, such as necrotizing enterocolitis, chronic lung disease, hospital-acquired infections, and overall mortality, have decreased to levels much lower than national benchmarks.
Dr. Mena is actively involved in several committees and boards at the local and state levels with the goal of improving the care of newborns, including serving as the Chair of the Neonatal subcommittee of the perinatal Advisory Committee for the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS), member of the Baltimore County Fetal
and Infant Mortality Review Board and Action Committee, faculty of the Maryland Patient Service Center, and past Chair and current member of the MedStar Neonatology Quality Improvement Group. He has co-chaired the Children’s Community Task Force at MFSMC, which is in its second year of awarding grants to programs that advance children’s health in our community. He also serves on the Community Health Improvement Committee of Medstar Franklin Square. In November 2017, he was nominated Baltimore’s Medical honoree by the March of Dimes for his dedication and passion for critically ill babies and their families. In 2019, Dr. Mena was named by his peers as a “Top Doc” by Baltimore Magazine, marking this his ninth nomination for this honor.
Dr. Jennifer Miller is originally from central Virginia where she obtained her medical degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by Pediatrics Residency training at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, MD. In addition to serving as Chief Resident of Pediatrics for one year, she completed fellowship training in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Johns Hopkins. Her primary fellowship research project explored the relationships between NICU families and medical providers and the potential impact on infant care. She is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and is board certified in Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics.
Manisha Patel, MD, board certified by the American Board of Pediatrics, joined the division of Neonatology in the Pediatric Department at MedStar Franklin Square in 2015.
Dr. Patel received her medical degree from the St. George's University School of Medicine and then returned back home to Maryland to complete her pediatric residency at the University of Maryland. She completed her fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at the University of Virginia in 2015 and is board certified in Neonatology and Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics.
Throughout her fellowship, her primary research interest was immature breathing patterns of premature infants, with a focus on periodic breathing. She also has a special interest in predictive monitoring for neonatal sepsis and published a review on the role of monoclonal antibodies in prevention of infection.
Since joining our group, Dr. Patel has focused on quality improvement initiatives to help improve outcomes for term and premature infants, and she is the site’s Reporting Officer for the Vermont Oxford Network. Dr. Patel led the development of a feeding protocol for the NICU and the implementation of delayed cord clamping after birth. She is also the Education Coordinator for the Family Medicine nursery rotation and since 2018, Dr. Patel is the physician Co-chair of the Neonatology Electronic Health Record Workgroup for MedStar.
Jenny Yu, MD, an experienced neonatologist with outstanding training and background, joined our team in 2017. Dr. Yu is board certified in both Neonatology and Pediatrics by the American Board of Pediatrics and completed her medical degree at St. Louis University School of Medicine in Missouri. She completed her pediatric residency at Phoenix Children’s Hospital in Arizona and her neonatology fellowship at Harvard Children’s Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts.
Prior to joining MedStar Franklin Square, Dr. Yu was an attending neonatologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital where she also was the medical director of the Maryland Regional Neonatal Transport Program. In addition, she has completed extensive research related to hypoxic–ischemic encephalopathy and neonatal seizures. Dr. Yu is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Medical Association and the Society for Neuroscience. Her areas of interest include neonatal brain injury, neonatal sepsis and the judicious use of antibiotics, and neonatal transport.
Since joining our group, Dr. Yu has focused on antibiotic stewardship and led the implementation of the Early Onset Sepsis Neonatal Calculator which has resulted in a significant reduction in the use of antibiotics in newborns. She is also the Medical Director for our Neonatal Transport Program and recently assumed as the Medical Director for the Nursery.
Alexius Hall, BSN, RNC-NIC, has been a member of the NICU team since 2016 and has worked for Medstar Franklin Square Medical Center since 2010. Alexius began her NICU journey as a bedside nurse. Her bedside manner, leadership skills, and work ethic allowed for a natural transition into the Nurse Manager role. Alexius is certified through the National Certification Program (NCC) in Neonatal Intensive Care Nursing. She attended the Community College of Baltimore County in Essex, where she completed her Associate of Science Degree in Nursing in 2010. Alexius also attended Walden University and received her Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing in 2012. Alexius is currently attending Western Governor’s University and pursuing her Master of Science Degree in Nursing Leadership and Management.
Alexius is a member of the NICU Operations Council and dedicated to providing excellent care to our tiniest patients as well as their families. Throughout her tenure, she has developed many friendships with former NICU graduates. Alexius attends every NICU reunion and will continue to ensure the parents and families are an integral part of the patient-centered care that is delivered by the entire NICU staff.
Tricia (Trish) Fletcher, RNC, MS, CRNP, has been a certified neonatal nurse practitioner (CRNP) in our NICU since 1997. Trish earned her Master's Degree in Neonatology from the University of Maryland School of Nursing and her CRNP license from the National Certification Corporation.
Trish worked as a registered nurse in the NICU at MedStar Franklin Square from 1997 to 2001. She left MedStar Franklin Square to obtain her Master's degree and neonatal nurse practitioner certification at the University of Maryland.
She returned to the NICU at MedStar Franklin Square as an experienced neonatal nurse practitioner in 2006, after being employed full time in the NICU at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Maryland. In our NICU, Trish has expanded the development of our Neonatal Bereavement Program. The Neonatal Bereavement Team offers support to family and staff during the grieving process. Trish is most interested in helping families deal with their loss by helping them create memories; she has taught members of the Bereavement Team to make foot impressions for 3 dimensional castings of the baby's feet. Parents of babies who have died especially appreciate these special mementos.
Trish is an instructor in the Team STEPPS program. The goal of Team STEPPS is to improve patient safety within the NICU. It is an evidence-based system to improve communication of teamwork skills among health care professionals.
Trish is a certified instructor of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program and is certified as an RTS (Resolve Through Sharing) Bereavement Counselor. Trish is also the coordinator for our Critical Neonatal Transport Program, active since 2010.
Diane Murphy, BSN, CRNP, completed her undergraduate degree in nursing at York College of Pennsylvania and earned her neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) certification from Georgetown University .
Diane joined MedStar Franklin Square in 1983 as a nurse in Labor and Delivery, eventually joining the NICU team. She assumed her position as a certified neonatal nurse practitioner in 1991. Diane organized MedStar Franklin Square's first NICU reunion in 1988 and has continued to chair the event in the years since.
Within Neonatology, Diane's areas of interest are family-centered care and developmental care. She is certified in Neonatal Developmental Assessment. Diane is a certified instructor in Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP).
Cosette Nickles, CRNP, completed her nursing education at MedStar Union Memorial Hospital in 1979 and earned her neonatal nurse practitioner (NNP) certification from Georgetown University in 1983.
Prior to joining the NICU at MedStar Franklin Square in 1989, Cosette worked as a neonatal nurse at Johns Hopkins Hospital and as neonatal nurse practitioner at Sinai Hospital. Cosette is a very active member of the NICU team and participates in several groups and committees focused on enhancing the quality, safety, and patient-centered care that our NICU delivers.
Currently, Cosette is the chair of the Communication Sub Group Committee for the Neonatal Collaborative and is in charge of overseeing our NICU database.
Within neonatology, Cosette's areas of interest are developmental care and team communication in the intensive care setting, as a means of improving quality of care. Cosette, a night shift nurse mentor, is certified as an instructor in both the Neonatal Resuscitation (NRP) and STABLE programs.
Heather Ward MSN, NNP-BC, joined the Medstar Franklin Square NICU staff in 2013. Heather completed her undergraduate degree in nursing at Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and worked as a NICU nurse at Sinai Hospital for 7 years. She then continued her education and joined the neonatal nurse practitioner program at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston where she graduated with a Master of Science in Nursing. Heather is a certified neonatal nurse practitioner and is recognized by the Maryland Board of Nursing as an advanced practice nurse.
Heather’s main interests in neonatology are neonatal resuscitation and infection prevention. She is a certified instructor for the AAP-NRP Neonatal Resuscitation Program and is a certified instructor of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP). Heather also co-chairs the NICU Infection Control Committee and leads quality improvement projects geared toward decreasing the number of hospital acquired infections and ventilator associated pneumonia in newborns.
Eileen Wychgram MA, CRNP, completed her undergraduate degree in nursing at Towson University in Maryland and a received Master’s of Science in Nursing from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
Eileen’s has called MedStar Franklin Square “home” since 1982. She attended the Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Certificate Program at Georgetown University in Washington, DC, and has been a certified neonatal nurse practitioner since 1993.
Along with Heather Ward, CRNP, she co-chairs the unit-based NICU Infection Control Committee with the purpose of improving clinical practice and advancing toward zero central line associated blood stream infections and all other infections.
Eileen is a certified instructor of the American Academy of Pediatrics Neonatal Resuscitation Program (NRP) and coordinates the Neonatal Resuscitation MegaCode Sessions at MedStar Franklin Square. She also develops learning objectives and case presentations for NICU code simulations and facilitates the unit-based simulations.
Christina (Jenny) Chaney joined Medstar Franklin Square as a lactation consultant for our NICU in August 2014. Jenny is a graduate of Marymount University with a BSN and came to us with 11 years of neonatal and pediatric nursing experience. She worked as a NICU nurse at University of Maryland Medical center for nine years and became an international board-certified lactation consultant in 2011. This certification allowed her to combine her love of the NICU with her passion for the use of breast milk to protect the most vulnerable newborns.
Breast milk has a medicinal effect for infants in the NICU. In fact, breast milk can be a true life saver for the premature and sick newborn. Human milk is uniquely designed to nourish newborns, protecting them against infections and promoting growth and brain development. These qualities become especially important when a baby is born prematurely or is critically ill, but all babies benefit from human milk. Providing breast milk also empowers mothers to play a vital role as a part of the health care team in the NICU. In addition, there are lifelong benefits to mothers through breastfeeding, like decreasing the risk of breast cancer and ovarian cancer.
Helping mothers and infants reap the many rewards of breastfeeding is truly Jenny’s passion; please do not hesitate asking her for help. Jenny is available for prenatal consults, for one-on-one consultation, and direct support during and after the NICU stay. She will also assist you with obtaining a breast pump to take home with you.
Since joining our NICU, Jenny led the development and implementation of our Donor Brest Milk Program, allowing access to life saving human breastmilk to dozens of premature babies since 2017.
You may contact Jenny on the Lactation Warm Line: 443-777-7427.
Mandy Wright, MSW, LGSW completed her BSW at the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a minor in Sociology. She then went on to earn her MSW from the University of Maryland, Baltimore. While attending UMB, Mandy interned for various agencies in the Baltimore area, specializing in vulnerable populations. One internship included working with medically fragile children and their families through a treatment foster care program, requiring intensive case management.
Mandy began her career at MedStar Franklin Square working as a social worker on a medical/surgical unit where she provided case management services. She transitioned to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit a few short months later where she remains dedicated to the families and babies of the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Mandy works closely with the interdisciplinary team. She assesses the family’s social environment and mental health, the family’s strengths and needs, and identifies any potential risks that may be present for the baby. She provides support, education, and resource navigation to every family in the NICU. Mandy is an advocate for babies and their families during their hospital admission. She also assists with discharge planning for the babies with more intensive community follow-up needs. Mandy is also our site’s Retinopathy of Prematurity Coordinator, a crucial part of follow up for NICU graduates who were born premature.
Sharon Cox, BSN, RNC-NIC, has been a member of the NICU team since 1988 when she joined as a tech. Sharon is certified through the National Certification Program (NCC) and proud member of NAAN, National Associate of Neonatal Nurses. Sharon attended nursing school at Community College of Baltimore County in Essex and completed her Associate in Science and Arts degree in 1998, and completed her Bachelor’s degree in Nursing at Notre Dame University in 2013. In addition to being a NICU nurse, she also educates the team on best practices, services as Chair of NICU Operations Council, and is a member of the Nurse Education Council. On the council, she contributes to developing competencies, instrumental in providing education to staff around Joint Commissions Standards and Magnet Designation and re-designation. In 2015 Sharon became the Nurse Educator and led the resuscitative and post-resuscitative care for a level 3 team.
Sharon is passionate and dedicated to the NICU team. Her passion stems from her desire for nursing education, as well as giving back to the NICU as both she and her daughter are former NICU babies.
Erin Fierro is the March of Dimes Family Program Coordinator. Erin received her Bachelor of Arts from Temple University. She worked as a recruiter for seven years, rising up to the role of recruiting director for Cornerstone Financial Partners. After having two children, both born in the NICU at MedStar Franklin Square Medical Center, she became a stay at home mom and started participating in parent support groups.
Erin is a proud member of the NICU team as a March of Dimes NICU Family Support Program Coordinator, to help other mothers with their NICU journey. A member of the MedStar Franklin Square NICU Advisory Committee since 2014, Erin has established great relationships with staff members and is extremely knowledgeable about the program.
Erin is passionate about supporting NICU families from both her personal and professional experience. She works to support the entire family, as well as the NICU staff, to create a family-centered NICU.