Global Medical Response (GMR) air medical and ground crews transported more than 150 children and expectant mothers to a new state-of-the-art Children’s Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina. In less than 12 hours, the coordinated effort of 37 air medical and ground ambulance crews moved their often tiny and medically fragile patients to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) Shawn Jenkins Children’s Hospital.
“This exercise was a great example of what GMR can do when we band our resources together to help the communities we jointly serve,” said Brad Fields, Regional Clinical Manager for Med-Trans Corporation (MTC). “There were 10 MTC flight crews from AirReach, AirCare, CareFlight, GHS, LifeFlight, Novant, Meducare, Regional One, and Wings. We boarded ground ambulances provided by American Medical Response/Lifeguard that were manned by their EMTs and drivers.”
MTC essentially turned those vehicles into Critical Care Ambulances with the proper equipment, nurses and paramedics capable of transporting all patients with the exception of those requiring a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).
Months of Planning
The project was several months in the making. The logistics of the move included shutting down the streets between the old MUSC Children’s Hospital and the new facility for the several hours. Transports were scheduled down to the second with the first patient arriving before the crack of dawn.
“You can imagine the level of coordination needed to execute this move safely and efficiently,” said Fields. “In addition to planning every detail with our own staffs and those of our ground colleagues, there’s the MUSC administration and staff, the City of Charleston and the local police who ensured we had a clear path to work with, as well.”
Conditions had to be just right and protocols had to be firmly in place. After two “no-go” determinations, the move was green-lighted on a Saturday morning in February. Patients were separated into four categories with the most critical patients moving first. Even though the weather that morning was grey and dreary, the patients were all sunshine and light as they moved into their high-tech, roomy new digs.
MUSC’s new 250 bed facility is a spacious 625,000 square feet: Eleven stories of the latest in medical technology, comfort and privacy. It has an advanced fetal care center, the biggest NICU in the state and entire floors dedicated to conditions like cancer and heart problems.
Costing nearly $400 million, Shawn Jenkins also has individual rooms for maternity patients and comfortable furniture for parents spending the night with their children. Panoramic views of the Ashley River and Charleston Harbor are most striking from the roof-top helipad, capable of supporting military-grade helicopters.
Integration in Action
As GMR brings together the skills and resources of ground and air companies across the country, the Children’s Hospital move in Charleston exemplifies what is possible.
“We’re really only beginning to scratch the surface of how we can work together to take pre-hospital care to the next level of clinical and logistical excellence in our communities,” said Fields. “Moving these children without incident or a drop-off in the level of care they required is clear evidence of the value of integration. I’m excited to see where we can go from here.”