New Neonatal Transport Bed a “Mini ICU on Wheels”

April 13, 2006

A reception held at Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong at 5 p.m. on Monday, April 24, will honor Roger Friedlander and his family, celebrating their donation of a neonatal transport isolette that is transforming the way newborns in the most critical condition are being brought to the hospital.

“It’s practically an ICU on wheels,” said the hospital’s neonatal transport nursing coordinator, Jean Livingston, RN.   

The bed, which Friedlander decided to purchase at last October’s Gala, had moved to the forefront of the children’s hospital’s wish-list almost two years ago. Livingston said that while the other beds are still functional, they are bulkier, piece-meal arrangements.

The new one is a welcomed addition to the neonatal transport services, as it streamlines care, offering a variety of built-in features typical of an ICU. Newborns can be stabilized before making the journey, enjoying the same quality of care en route that they will once they arrive at the hospital. 

“Parents now have the opportunity to see their baby in a state of the art NICU on wheels while they say good-bye to their baby for the trip to Golisano Children’s Hospital; this gives parents confidence that their baby will receive the best care during transport ,” said Timothy P. Stevens, M.D., future medical director of the NICU.   “We know that they have access to the same specialized equipment while in the bed, so we’re not racing back to GCHaS to get to life-saving equipment or better resources.  Once they’re harnessed in, they’re strapped into a bed that has just about everything they might need.”

The new isolette includes a state-of-the art equipment monitor which tracks vital signs through invasive and non-invasive measures (for example, body probes to monitor temperature, heart rate, and respirations, and a catheter line that can deliver fluids through the newborn’s belly-button blood vessels). The bed is also equipped with built-in suction capability, to help clean obstructions to the infant’s airway, and has a sophisticated ventilator that can provide multiple modes of respiratory support and oxygen levels that can be fine-tuned on a case-by-case basis. A special “trap door” in the rear allows a quick slide-out motion, should an infant be strapped in for the ride and suddenly require intubation or other emergency procedures. To provide care that is appropriate to a newborns developmental state, the bed is built with shock-absorbers to minimize vibration and an isolette cover with a lining of reflective insulation material that is used by NASA to conserve heat.

Weighing in at 300 pounds, the new transport isolette is almost 50 percent lighter than the older versions that the hospital plans to continue using as understudies — in the event that two transport trips occur simultaneously.

The neonatal transport team, a specially-trained staff of nurses, respiratory therapists, and physicians, is ready to help stabilize babies in critical condition while they are en route to Golisano Children’s Hospital at Strong.


And, just as important as the top-notch medical care is the emotional and psychological care the team provides to families.

“The team is well-versed on how to help parents cope with the idea of being separated from their baby who is potentially facing life-or death circumstances,” said Robert J. Swantz, M.D., medical director of the neonatal transport program. “We remember that they’re new parents, or parents again, and it’s important to explain to them exactly what the trip will be like and what they can expect for their child once admitted to the NICU.”

Strong Memorial Hospital is the Regional Perinatal Center for all high-risk obstetrical services.  Swantz says the transport team services newborns born in the community whose critical conditions were not anticipated or whose mothers were not able to deliver at Strong. Among those transport trips are nearly 200 newborns, almost half coming from neighboring hospitals in Monroe County, although teams have conducted trips as far west to Buffalo, east to Syracuse, and south to the state line.

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Becky Jones
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