NICU Transport Services Opens for Mercy Health Patients
The tiniest patients of Mercy Health now have access to a wide continuum of care throughout the system, thanks to the launch of the Mercy Health NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) Transport Services on January 1, 2016. This specialty ambulance and care team serve as the inter-facility transportation for babies from the Mercy Health Hackley Campus in Muskegon to the Mercy Health Saint Mary’s Campus in Grand Rapids.
“Typically, ambulances bring people to higher levels of care found at a hospital or facility,” said Jette Benson, BS, BSN, RNC-NIC, the NICU transport coordinator who oversaw the education, training and implementation of this new Mercy Health service. “The Mercy Health NICU transport vehicle is different in that we bring the higher level of care to the patient.”
The NICU Transport serves as a “portable NICU for patients,” according to Benson. The ambulance is fully equipped to skillfully treat the smallest patients of Mercy Health while transporting them to the NICU at Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, which is a designated Level III NICU.
Equipment for the NICU Transport includes:
• Comprehensive breathing support devices, such as ventilators and heated and humidified oxygen.
• A special fluid-based mattress to provide better thermal control of patients during transport.
• Continuous monitoring of patients, including any central lines they may have.
• One-to-one care with a transport nurse who is trained specifically to meet any patient’s needs.
The Transport team underwent rigorous training.
“Thanks to simulations and education, our Transport Team is confident in its ability to treat a NICU patient in a moving ambulance,” said Benson. More than three dozen NICU clinicians are trained as members of the team. “We hope to promote this new service and work collaboratively with obstetricians in Muskegon to provide best care and enable them to deliver patients without worrying about the baby’s care after delivery.”
NICU services are being elevated all across the region. In January 2016, the Special Care Nursery at Mercy Health Muskegon earned Level II designation. The same neonatology nurse practitioners serve both campuses, rotating back and forth for continuity of care for the patients. Thanks to this enhanced level of care, two premature babies have already been able to stay at Hackley Campus, close to their families. Just a few weeks earlier, the babies likely would have been transported to another hospital.
The Transport team transported three babies in its first ten days of operation and anticipates transporting 50 to 60 babies a year.