more than an ambulance

I am writing this post from Boston, where I am attending the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) National Conference And Exhibition (NCE). It is always stimulating to learn new information, network with others in my field (I mostly hang out with other pediatric intensive care physicians) and meet young physicians just getting started in their careers.

One of the topics within pediatric intensive care that our group discusses a lot is how to safely transport children from outlying hospitals in a safe and effective way.

I therefore wanted to be sure that you had seen the Carilion Clinic Children's Hospital NICU/PICU mobile ICU and two videos from local news agencies that were on air last week, when we introduced the vehicle to the public.


I am so proud to be working with a group of people who have lobbied for excellent care for our most vulnerable children since way before I ever arrived in Roanoke. This mobile ICU is outfitted for almost any situation that an infant or child could experience while traveling to our PICU, NICU or inpatient unit.

All our equipment is permanently mounted, with supplies of various gases (including heliox and nitric oxide, in addition to oxygen) so we can handle complex respiratory needs. We have high tech monitoring and communication capabilities. We can transport two patients at once in addition to two staff members for each patient AND two parents if necessary. The vehicle was manufactured to our exact specifications and exceeds all known safety standards.

We were also delighted to have the outside of the vehicle designed by local artists Tony and Karen Kessler. No matter where we travel, it will be very clear that this mobile ICU is part of OUR children's hospital, that it is helping to keep sick children as close to home as possible, and that we care not only about the health care we are delivering, but also about the emotions our families experience during a traumatic time such as during a critical care transport.

Equipment is just a small part of what makes our transport system special.

Most important is the fact that we maintain a team of highly qualified nurses, respiratory therapists and emergency medical technicians who can care for the most critically ill neonates, infants, children and adolescents. They provide the kind of care you can only find in a children's hospital, but they are ready to bring this care rapidly to the patient's bedside.

These staff members are as good or better than any I have seen anywhere in all my years of providing medical care to critically ill children.

I am so happy that we are able to have them immediately available to respond to any hospital in our region (southwest Virginia, central Virginia and portions of West Virginia) when the need arises.

When they are on a transport, they have immediate and ongoing access to a critical care or neonatal physician, or to a pediatric surgical specialist, depending on the patient's needs. They maintain a rigorous patient safety and quality monitoring process to ensure that all children receive the care they need regardless of diagnosis. This is a commitment we have made to our community.

I am most proud to know that this mobile ICU was built by OUR COMMUNITY.

The generous donations of members of our community to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals either through direct contributions, or by dropping some change in the various collection sites at our National Sponsor sites, such as Wal-Mart or Food Lion have made all the difference in the world, and I thank you very much.

Please enjoy the videos below. I look forward to your comments and your questions, and would be delighted to discuss any aspects of pediatric or neonatal interhospital (that means between two different hospitals) transport that may be on your mind.

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What a great post comforting to your community to know just how safe their children would be in the care of your Carilion Clinic mobile ICU. It is awesome and important that your local news programming shared the information about this wonderful vehicle. Excellent article!

Thanks so much Claudia. I am so proud of all the folks who have worked so hard to make this happen, and so thankful to our community for supporting CMN with donations that were turned into a mobile ICU for our region.

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