Oishei Children’s Hospital has welcomed its “newest arrival” on Tuesday – a state-of-the art neonatal transport vehicle expected to make a big difference in the lives of premature babies.
By all outside appearances, the new neonatal transport vehicle at Oishei Children’s Hospital is just another ambulance. Inside, it’s much more.
An automatic lift raises the more than 300 pound wheeled isolette unit, used to carry and protect premature babies – something the hospital’s specialized transport team used to have to do manually. And there’s not one, but two of them – giving the ability to move twins.
In addition to two babies, the new vehicle has room for a fourth member of the specially trained transport care team, where its predecessor only carried three. The ambulance also has a built-in generator, which Neonatal Nurse Practitioner Katy Perry says is key to keeping the isolette running on long trips across Western New York and sometimes beyond.
Perry_01 :23 “We not only heat to higher temperatures for the little premature babies. But we also have IV pumps, we also have cardiac monitors. And we now have a temperature regulation device which is used to cool babies, which is the first time that we’re going to be using this on transport. And that also uses a lot of energy.”
Because of the fragile physiology of babies born prematurely, how they are moved is incredibly important. The new vehicle was built with specialized shocks to absorb jolts in the road, and the two isolette units securely locked down to the floor have their own system for cushioning tiny patients.
“We want to make sure that when they’re being transported, they’re being transported in the safest, smoothest way possible so that we’re not causing any damage to their brain or to any other body systems,” explained Dr. Stephen Turkovich, Oishei’s chief medical officer.
The design of this next generation vehicle has been in the works for some time, according to AMR Eastern Region Chief EMS Officer Scott Karaszewski.
“We brought all the disciplines together to build this ambulance,” he said. “We had clinical, we had fleet, we had the builder itself. And we brought everybody to the table to find out what the needs of the hospital were to be.”
In combined time, planning took a year, followed by another year of the build. But the overall finish was delayed due to hurricanes impacting the southern-U.S. based builder.
The neonatal transport team at Oishei has been moving babies since the early 80s. In that time, they’ve completed more than 10,000 moves, and are now averaging more than 300 each year.
Follow WBFO's Avery Schneider on Twitter @SAvery131.