Special Cargo: Delivering Pediatric Intensive Care On the Go
October 31, 2017
They are one of the most reassuring medical teams that a family with a sick or injured child may ever face but until you need them, you may not even be aware that they exist.
The provincial Pediatric Transport Team, including five pediatric intensivists, nine registered nurses, and nine respiratory therapists, has been a comforting lifeline to Saskatchewan kids and families in need for nearly 20 years. The only team of its kind in Saskatchewan, the team provides specialized care either by road or air ambulance. Despite the long-haul commute to some of Saskatchewan’s critically ill or injured kids, the team goes the extra mile to transport children whose health has taken an unexpected turn for the worse.
“The most remarkable thing about them is their dedication,” says Amanda Dumont, Manager of Nursing for Saskatchewan’s only Pediatric Intensive Care Unit. “They have dealt with all types of health complications – you name it and they’ve seen it.”
A typical day for the team involves dealing with young patients with anything from severe infection respiratory issues, heart problems or even serious traumatic injuries. Patients are often transported to Saskatoon or occasionally to out-of-province facilities for sub-specialized services or emergency procedures. The team has traveled to nearly every community in Saskatchewan. During each crucial moment the team is en route, they strive to provide every child the same level of care they would receive if they were in a tertiary care hospital.
One of the team’s many trips last year was to pick up 15-year-old Darren Skinner of Indian Head. His frightening experience started out as a bad headache with admission to Regina General Hospital. A CT scan revealed this was no ordinary headache. Darren had a serious sinus infection that was affecting his brain and required immediate transport to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit in Saskatoon. There, he underwent three brain surgeries and spent over 30 days in a hypothermic induced coma.
“The transport team is amazing,” says Darren’s dad, Chad Skinner. “Until we needed it, we were unaware of what they do. Without their outstanding skills, equipment, and caring, our son may not be with us today.”
The team is equipped with an all-important iSTAT monitor, incubator for neonatal patients, team outerwear, and training all funded by Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation. Additionally Enbridge Pipelines Inc. funded the team’s first ventilator at the Children’s Hospital Radiothon in Regina in 2013.
“The pediatric transport team often faces precarious conditions both with weather and patient stability. Having the right equipment allows them to safely deliver pediatric critical care in the transport environment,” says Dr. Tanya Holt, Director of Pediatric Critical Care and Inter-Facility Transport. “Equipment like transport ventilators enable provision of optimal respiratory support to children with respiratory failure. iSTAT monitors allow real-time blood work and lab evaluation en route ensuring that if a patient’s condition is changing more objective data is available to them for decision making. Monitoring the patient’s vital signs in real-time comes from the Life pack Monitor which allow moment to moment vital sign assessment and adjustment of care. Many of these critical pieces would not be possible without the generosity of Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital Foundation donors.”
From bone-chilling January nights to the smouldering heat of July, the team completes approximately 550 trips year-round – almost double the number from just three years ago.
“When minutes count, this extraordinary team goes above and beyond to ensure our province’s children and families receive the highest level of care while in transit,” says Boback-Lane. “We are so thankful for them and they work they do each and every day to keep our most vulnerable children alive.”
To donate to the Pediatric Transport Team, visit pattisonchildrens.ca/donate and click on our PICU designated fund.