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Road to Recovery

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The ocean-themed mural displayed on this medical vehicle may look playful, but behind the colorful design is serious business. This CHKD transport offers the highest level of pediatric intensive care available on wheels, designed to provide life-saving care to children en route to the hospital. And standing in front of it are the heroes who make it happen.

KD4 is one of four CHKD transports in the health system’s fleet designed to provide critical care. Nearly 30 critical care team members, most pictured here, include registered nurses, respiratory therapists and paramedics. They work in teams of three and are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to transport children with serious medical or surgical conditions to CHKD’s main hospital in Norfolk. The teams make more than 1,500 transports each year.

“About 30 percent of our transports are newborns transported to CHKD’s neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Most are premature or have breathing problems,” says Jamie Carter, director of the transport program. “Our other transports involve children who have serious breathing problems or injuries due to traumas, illnesses, seizures, falls or car accidents and need the pediatric care only CHKD can provide.”

The critical care transport team is often the first introduction many parents get to CHKD. “We are the front door to CHKD for many families who have never been to the hospital. We all recognize the importance of that first impression, especially in a time when things are chaotic, stressful and emotional for the family,” says Chris Cannon, who has served with the department for 14 years. “We work to help parents understand everything that is happening and reassure them that their child is in good hands.”

Working with families during an unexpected health crisis can be stressful, but incredibly rewarding, explains Cannon. “We all have many stories that stick with us. One of the most intense situations we had last year involved a mother and baby who both went into cardiac arrest. Our team was able to resuscitate the baby,” says Cannon. Today, mother and child are doing well.

“Everyone works so hard for our patients, not just in transport, but throughout CHKD – from the emergency department to the pediatric intensive care unit to rehabilitation,” says Cannon. “When you see all the pieces come together for a positive outcome for a child, it’s pretty inspiring.”

This story was featured in the summer 2017 edition of Kidstuff magazine, a quarterly publication from CHKD that features inspiring stories about patients, physicians and friends of CHKD.

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