PINEHURST – Laura Anne Valleni, M.D., MSPH, FAAP, has joined FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital as a neonatologist in the Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
“Being a neonatologist is an incredibly rewarding job, filled with miracles, highs, lows, joys and challenges,” Dr. Valleni said. “It is a tremendous privilege to be able to care for the tiniest members of our society, and an absolute joy when we discharge a baby home with their family.”
Double board certified in general pediatrics and neonatology, Dr. Valleni received both her Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Doctor of Medicine from the University of South Carolina. She then completed a residency in pediatrics at Prisma Health Children’s Hospital in Columbia, South Carolina.
Dr. Valleni went on to practice general pediatrics before completing a fellowship in neonatal-perinatal medicine at the Medical University of South Carolina. She said her first exposure to health care was through Medical Explorers, a program that allows high school students to volunteer in hospitals and learn more about careers in health care.
“I ended up spending most of my time on the newborn and pediatric floors,” she said. “I loved being there so much and would always spend a part of Christmas day volunteering.”
That early volunteer experience kickstarted years of philanthropic work. Dr. Valleni has served on both the Medical Response Team in post-earthquake Haiti and the Medical Outreach Team in Vietnam. Additionally, she taught neonatal resuscitation in China and Tibet and served on the board of Carolina Sunshine for Children, an organization that grants wishes to South Carolina children with life-threatening illnesses.
She has also been involved in a number of studies and collaborative projects, including a National Institutes of Health (NIH) Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome study.
“We are excited to welcome Dr. Valleni to FirstHealth,” Beth Tabor, administrative director of Women’s & Children’s Services, said. “She brings a lot of excellent experience and training and will be an asset to our team of neonatal specialists.”
Originally from Los Angeles, California, Dr. Valleni is relocating to Pinehurst to be closer to family after spending most of her career in South Carolina. Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her three children, traveling and participating in outdoor sports, including running, hiking, cycling and skiing. In 2016, she climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa with her 16-year-old son.
Dr. Valleni said her love of science, teaching and maternal and infant health led her to neonatology, and it’s a privilege to care for each baby with dignity and love.
“I absolutely cannot imagine myself doing anything else than spending my life focused on maternal and child health,” she said. “It truly is an honor to join the talented and caring NICU team at FirstHealth.”
The Level III Clarke Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) at FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital treats premature and sick newborns. Staffed by specially trained nurses and physicians, the 13-bed unit is family-centered to ensure that infants requiring more than routine nursery care can still have their families close by.