Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Air Transport Team Provides Domestic and International Emergency Service
September 2004 — A growing need for specialized air transport services for critically ill and injured patients is the inspiration behind Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Air Transport Team.
"The creation of our Air Transport Team has allowed us to extend our comprehensive array of services to any patient, regardless of their location," says Gerald Lavandosky, MD, FAAP, FCCP, Air Transport Team Administrator and pediatric intensivist on the medical staff at Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital, Memorial Regional Hospital and Memorial Hospital West.
Specialized Care During Transport
The team is made up of 4 physicians, 1 physician assistant, 6 registered nurses and 3 respiratory therapists with specialized in-flight medical training. In addition to a medical crew assembled according to the specific needs of the patient, the team travels with everything from ventilators and a neonatal transport incubator to alcohol wipes and diapers. "When we arrive, we take immediate responsibility for all of the patient's needs," says Dr. Lavandosky. "Because there is a different physiology for patients when they travel by air, specialized equipment is necessary. The staff has the training and expertise to deliver the type of care required in these conditions."
Since the first transport on June 12, 2000, this dedicated team has transferred more than 50 critically ill or injured children to facilities that can provide the appropriate tertiary, or specialized, care. Patients have been transported for conditions such as bone marrow transplant, skull trauma and chronic lung disease. Often, time is an issue. "When we receive a call, we can set up a transport, including the necessary approvals, in as little as 1 hour for United States citizens traveling in the U.S., and 4 to 6 hours for travel abroad," says Dr. Lavandosky.
National and International Emergency Transport
Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital Air Transport Team receives calls for emergency transport not only from Floridians traveling around the United States and in other countries, but also from the U.S. State Department, cruise lines, and national and international insurance companies. "There are lots of kids who come to Florida for vacation and need to get home because of illness or injury. We also do some third-party transports for other hospitals." The team has traveled internationally to places like Cuba, Ireland and Brazil, as well as to domestic destinations like Michigan and Missouri. Some patients are transported to Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital for emergency care, while others require transportation home in a medically safe environment after receiving care here or at another hospital.
"What began as a small project is now a full-fledged transport service," says Dr. Lavandosky. "We've come to realize that not only did Joe DiMaggio Children's Hospital have a need, but so did other hospitals. We are different from other hospital-based transport services because we transport our own patients, as well as provide this service for others."