Sometimes the tiniest of patients have to travel by ambulance, either by ground or by air, to get the critically specialized medical attention they need. And when they come to Avera McKennan's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, a NICU team is with them every step of the way. We met a couple from Estherville, Iowa whose one day old baby boy was airlifted to Sioux Falls in the middle of the night.
When we met baby Zachary Neider he was just 6 days old, in Avera McKennan's Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, 120 miles away from home. A day after he was born in Estherville, Iowa, his mom Bridgit and dad Kris Neider were told he was having a little trouble breathing.
Kris says, "We went to bed thinking it was no big deal and in the middle of the night the doctor walked in and woke us up and told us they've called for the helicopter and were going to take Zach to Sioux Falls."
NICU RN Lynn Porta says, "A lot of times babies have trouble breathing. Zach was in respiratory distress and needed help. He was intubated and needed his lungs acclimated to give him certain pressures."
Lynn Porta is also Avera McKennan's NICU Transport Coordinator. They are a core team from the NICU that goes with the Careflight and ambulance crews to make sure babies in distress, like Zach, are in good hands while they're in route.
Kris says, "We met with them (Sioux Falls NICU Crew) and said goodbye to Zach and at that point we didn't know what kind of good bye that would be. It was really scary."
Lynn says, "It's very scary for them. I always try and position myself (in their shoes) because I have 3 children of my own. They wait 9 months for this to happen and it's not the way it was planned. So you have to think of them emotionally, not only the baby being sick, but how the parents are feeling and transition them and let them know it's going to be okay."
Kris says, "He's improving well and that's really good. We just can't say enough about the medical staff from Estherville and Sioux Falls."
The Neiders are so grateful for Avera McKennan's specialized team trained in critical care in the air for the most precious of cargo.
The NICU Transport Team is made up of 8 neonatal practitioners and 14 neonatal nurses all of which are specially trained for flight.