Kids Kare in the Air

Wolfson Children’s Hospital introduces a new helicopter

Wolfson Children’s Hospital has a new way to get critically ill and injured patients the lifesaving help they need more quickly—the Kids Kare helicopter. Donned with the same underwater design as Wolfson Children’s Kids Kare Mobile Intensive Care Units (ICUs), the Kids Kare helicopter is dedicated solely to infants and children. Staffed with a highly trained clinical flight crew and advanced medical capabilities, Kids Kare makes swift interfacility transport possible, bringing patients from other hospitals in the region to Wolfson Children’s without halting or delaying their care. 

“We know that bringing our critical care team to the patient to initiate lifesaving care before and during transport does improve outcomes for the patients we serve,” says Amanda Kellum, director of the Kids Kare Critical Care and Trauma Transport Program at Wolfson Children’s. “We are essentially bringing an ICU to the patient—initiating treatment at the origin facility and continuing care during transport to Wolfson Children’s Hospital—and therefore, the patient does not have to wait to start to receive that care.”

The Kids Kare helicopter is equipped with the same specialty monitors, vents, gases, and medications as the Kids Kare Mobile ICUs and Wolfson Children’s ICU. The helicopter also includes a satellite phone to ensure constant communication between the crew and pediatric physician specialists at Wolfson Children’s during transport. Kellum says that children’s hospitals, especially tertiary care and trauma centers, are using helicopters more and more. She says that Wolfson Children’s transport fleet currently serves more than 1,800 infants and children throughout North Florida and South Georgia every year. With the addition of the helicopter, the hospital is accessible to even more patients and their families.

“As the region’s only state-designated pediatric trauma center, we are committed to caring for the most vulnerable children of all ages,” says Wolfson Children’s Hospital President Michael D. Aubin, FACHE. “Our pediatric specialists are experts in their fields and are trained to provide lifesaving care for even the most serious and complex cases.”

Wolfson Children’s is part of Baptist Health, the region’s most comprehensive health care provider. The nation’s leading air medical service provider, Air Methods, provides the aircraft and aviation services for Life Flight, the fleet of helicopters deployed by Baptist Health. Life Flight celebrated its 40th anniversary in August 2020 (see the article in the Oct./November 2020 issue of Arbus). The Kids Kare helicopter will use the helipad at Baptist Medical Center Jacksonville, which is also used by Life Flight and Trauma One. Air communication between pilots will coordinate landing and takeoff says Kellum.

“The impact of the lifesaving care offered through our partnership with Wolfson Children’s and Baptist Health cannot be overstated,” says Trevor Hicks, regional business manager with Air Methods. “When children and infants require urgent care, seconds can impact outcomes. Air medical services mean that these young patients are transported quickly to the children’s hospital that can serve them best and where they will receive the best prehospital care available.”

Services provided at Wolfson Children’s Hospital are provided primarily by pediatric physician specialists with Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Jacksonville; University of Florida College of Medicine – Jacksonville; UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh (for cardiac surgery services); and Emergency Resources Group. According to Kellum, the introduction of the Kids Kare helicopter means “we can get to the patient more expeditiously, initiate treatments, and get them back to Wolfson Children’s Hospital quickly—this changes outcomes.”

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Author: Arbus

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