GREENVILLE, SC – Prisma Health Children’s Hospital’s newest delivery – an 18,000-pound state-of-the-art neonatal intensive care ambulance – may start carrying the Upstate’s tiniest deliveries as soon as this week.
Team members, as well as former patients and families, welcomed the new ambulance at noon, Tuesday, Dec. 3, at Greenville Memorial Hospital.
“This new ambulance is essentially a NICU on wheels, complete with specialty staff, to help us quickly and safely transport the Upstate’s most fragile infants,” said Michael Stewart, MD, medical director of the hospital’s Bryan Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, the most advanced NICU in the Upstate.
The new ambulance, which replaces the current outdated one, features a super-sized patient compartment capable of transporting twins in separate incubators along with the specialty assessment and treatment equipment necessary to treat these babies.
Nearly 180 babies – some weighing less than one pound – are transported annually. The ambulance carries a specially trained team that includes a neonatal RN, pediatric respiratory therapist and critical-care paramedic. Babies can also receive pre-transport care by the neonatalogy team at the Children’s Hospital through a high-tech telehealth program called Delivery Buddy.
Additional upgrades to this ambulance, beyond the capacity to transport twins, include a state-of-the-art stretcher restraint system. It also has redundant operating systems, including a large generator, to ensure that all specialty functions work even in an accident or a mechanical failure. The NICU truck also has the capacity to carry additional gases such as medical air and heliox, an oxygen-helium blend, not routinely installed on typical ambulances.
“We need to be prepared 24/7 to respond, stabilize and transport our smallest patients,” said Aaron Dix, executive director of emergency medical services for Prisma Health-Upstate. This specialty truck will provide the means to safely transport both the NICU transport team and our patients for the next decade.”
The transport team routinely serves seven hospitals in the Upstate, including St. Francis Eastside, Self Regional Healthcare and Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System.
For parents like Nate and Ashley Ward, access to the NICU on wheels can make all the difference. Their daughter Hadley, now a thriving 18-month-old perpetual motion machine, was diagnosed after birth with a potentially deadly birth defect in which the diaphragm, the muscle that separates the chest from the abdomen, fails to close during normal development and allows the stomach, intestines and liver to migrate into the chest cavity. Soon after birth, Hadley and her care team were onboard the rolling NICU and headed to the Bryan NICU at Children’s Hospital. Neonatal surgery to repair the hole occurred on Day 3, and, on Day 19, Hadley was able to leave the NICU.
“Hadley is doing great,” said mom Ashley. “She is thriving, full of personality and has a huge heart. You would never know about her rough entrance into the world without her ‘rainbow,’” which is what her family has dubbed her surgical scar. “We cannot say enough positive things about our stay at Children’s Hospital and the people who helped care for her – both on that initial transport and throughout her stay there.”
“We are so happy to have the new ambulance to facilitate Prisma Health Children’s Hospital-Upstate in providing the advanced care these fragile neonates need,” said Robin LaCroix, MD, its medical director.
About Prisma Health
Prisma Health, a not-for-profit health company, is committed to excellence in patient care, clinical research and teaching the next generation of medical professionals. Our organization – South Carolina’s largest private employer – was formed when Greenville Health System and Palmetto Health joined together in late 2017, officially becoming Prisma Health in January 2019. With 32,000 team members (including volunteers), 18 hospitals and over 300 physician practice sites, we serve more than 1.2 million patients annually – about a quarter of the state’s population. Our goal is to improve the health of all South Carolinians by enhancing clinical quality, the patient experience and access to affordable care. Our cardiovascular, neuroscience, OB/GYN, oncology and orthopedic programs attract patients throughout the region. Also noteworthy are our two renowned children’s hospitals, comprehensive diabetes care and extensive primary care network. Ultimately, we are dedicated to transforming the health care experience for our patients and families, our team members and guests by bringing our purpose to life: Inspire health. Serve with compassion. Be the difference. Learn more at PrismaHealth.org.