Physician from top medical school heads NHRMC neonatology services

July 18, 2005
By Jean Joyner, Corporate Writer, NHHN

The former director of the neonatology program at the University of Texas-Houston Medical School, one of the nation’s top 25 medical schools, has joined the staff of New Hanover Regional Medical Center as leader of the hospital’s program for premature and sick infants.

Fernando Rodrigo Moya, M.D., a renowned authority in neonatal medicine, on July 1 assumed the roles of Director of Neonatology Services at NHRMC and Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina and Coastal Area Health Education Center. As a member of the medical staff at NHRMC and a research-oriented pediatric professor with Coastal AHEC, Dr. Moya steps into a role he has been preparing for all his life.

“When I was in medical school, I thought I would become a pediatric surgeon,” he said. “But after working in intensive care and neonatology during my residency, my passion became neonatal intensive care and care for the mother and her growing baby.”

The native of Chile lists a fellowship in Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, the site of his first faculty appointment, among his many educational milestones. He was director of UT-Houston’s Division of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine from 1997 to 2004, and had practiced at Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital in Houston, the teaching hospital in the UT-Houston system, since 1997.

Dr. Moya said he enjoys research that allows him to improve the lives of newborns and children while practicing in a hospital and working full-time on a medical school faculty.

“I have a similar background as Dr. Don Nakayama,” he said, referring to the Director of the Surgery Residency Program with Coastal AHEC who came to New Hanover Regional from UNC Children’s Hospital to start a pediatric surgery program. “He enticed me to make the personal decision to come to Wilmington.”

Other forces drew him to Wilmington as well.

“My wife was born in Kinston,” he said, “and I promised her last year when our daughter was born that I would move close to her relatives, most of whom live in North and South Carolina. The opportunity to work at NHRMC came along at the right time.”

Dr. Moya said he is impressed by the amazing population growth of Southeastern North Carolina and is pleased the medical center is embarking on an impressive building program, including a standalone women’s and children’s center to meet the pediatric needs of the growing region.

“The new infrastructure and other changes occurring in the medical center’s pediatric programs will attract additional pediatricians to the area and will allow us to build stronger subspecialty programs and services,” he said.

Dr. Moya’s plans include increasing the number of neonatologists from four to five and increasing the number of nurse practitioners from four to more than six. He is developing an ambitious calendar of evidence-based practice guidelines for the neonatology program.
His vision also includes increasing the number of pediatric clinical research projects and allowing staff to participate in multi-center studies headed by the medical schools of prestigious institutions like Yale and UNC.

“It may still be necessary to occasionally send a patient to the inland medical centers for specialty care, but our goal is to build programs locally to take care of all mothers and their babies,” he said.

Dr. Moya has been licensed to practice in Chile, Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas and North Carolina. He is board-certified by the American Board of Pediatrics and the Sub-Board of Neonatal-Perinatal Medicine. He has also practiced at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Yale-New Haven Hospital in New Haven, Connecticut.

His involvement with teaching and research institutions has allowed him to conduct 13 grant-supported research projects. Much of his research has focused on preventing lung disease in premature infants by either administering hormones to the mother before the baby’s birth or treating the baby after birth. His current grant-supported project is aimed at preventing hospital-acquired staphylococcal sepsis in premature infants.

Since 1980, Dr. Moya has published more than 75 articles in medical journals and written 17 chapters for medical books. A world-renowned speaker, Dr. Moya has presented most of his 66 published abstracts at pediatric research meetings around the globe and has made 108 presentations at research institutions, symposiums and international meetings. He reviews publications for 10 medical journals.

During his career, he has received more than 30 honors and awards from medical schools, professional societies, hospitals, cities and states around the world for his research and pediatric education work, including being named Physician of the Year at Memorial Hermann Children’s Hospital in 1999 and among Houston’s Best Doctors in 2002 and Best Doctors in America in 2002 and 2004. He has completed Visiting Professorships in Chile, Hawaii, The Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Philadelphia and Chapel Hill.

Outside the field of medicine, Dr. Moya enjoys basketball, fishing and reading fiction novels, especially those based on history by Clyde Cussler and Wilbur Smith. Spending time with his family is important. Besides his 1-year-old daughter, he has three older children and a grandchild.