Photography provided by Children’s Minnesota

From the age of seven, Tom George always wanted to be a doctor — a pediatrician, to be exact. And during his medical training and development, he zeroed in on his specialty: neonatology.

Caring for critically ill newborns — premature, complex, high-risk patients — has been his passion for more than 20 years. A prominent figure in the Midwest pediatric community, George is the system medical director of neonatology at Children’s Minnesota, leading one of the largest such programs in the country.

George and his team — working primarily in Children’s neonatal intensive-care units (NICU) in Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Special Care Nurseries, and Infant Care Center — care for nearly 3,000 babies every year. As a Level 4 neonatal group, they’re equipped with the technology, expertise and resources to treat the tiniest and most fragile patients.

“Because we care for so many infants at Children’s, we’ve seen a wide variety of conditions so what’s uncommon for other systems is not for us,” he explains. “And because we have such a big, diverse group of specialists here, there’s not a diagnosis we can’t handle. No matter what is wrong, we know something about it, and we can help.”

All these important team members play a vital role within the Children’s neonatal units, including nurses, neonatal nurse practitioners, child-life specialists, dietitians, music therapists, respiratory therapists, social workers, pharmacists, occupational and physical therapists, spiritual counselors, and others.

Each member of the care team has a unique and important role, as George sees his job as caring not only for babies but their families, too. “The journey that a family is on in the NICU can be traumatizing,” he notes. “They are at the center of our care model, and we support them with this comprehensive team.”

Under his leadership, Children’s Minnesota is extending its neonatal reach beyond the walls of its hospitals and clinics. As examples, the neonatal virtual care program strives to keep babies closer to home and provides immediate access to our neonatologists for pediatricians and hospitals in the region. For babies needing a higher level of care, our critical care transport team brings hundreds of babies to Children’s for care each year for those babies who need a higher level of care. Children’s is a leader in research participating in many trials to improve the care and outcomes of babies.

Along with providing hands-on patient care and leading a large and critically important team at Children’s, George is a passionate mentor, advising pediatric residents, fellows and faculty members across multiple institutions. He’s also the associate program director at the University of Minnesota’s Pediatric Residency Program.

Outside of work, George enjoys playing soccer on a local city team. “Most days,” he humbly admits, “I’m just trying not to hurt myself.”

Neonatology is the focus of this year’s Children’s Star Gala, the premier black-tie fundraiser for Children’s Minnesota. For nearly 30 years, the philanthropic community in the Twin Cities has come together to raise millions of dollars for the nonprofit, which relies on generous donors to make possible a kids-first brand of health care. This year’s gala is taking place on April 18 at the Historic Milwaukee Road Depot in downtown Minneapolis.