Upstate partners with Mercy Flight Central to deliver in-flight care to critically ill or injured kids

The Upstate Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team and Mercy Flight Central are partnering to transport young patients from all over the region to Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital, while delivering specialized pediatric care in transit. These joint team missions, which will be considered for patients located more than an hour from Upstate, take to the skies Sept. 10.

“The team of pediatric critical care experts that will be going on missions with Mercy Flight Central has undergone special training to prepare them for the unique challenges of caring for a patient in the air,” explained Robert Newmyer, MD, medical director of pediatric critical care transport at Upstate. “Mobile transport is always a complicated endeavor, but transport in an aircraft requires the provider to be familiar with the physiological changes that occur at that altitude, the tools and equipment available and meeting the safety requirements for flight readiness.”

Training for the team, which includes physicians, nurses, respiratory therapists, and nursing leadership who specialize in pediatric critical care, began more than a year ago. These team members will work in concert with the Mercy Flight Central team that includes pilot, flight nurse and flight paramedic.

Transport of a critically ill or injured child, and the vehicle used to transport that child, are complicated care issues and subject to a number of factors. The location of the patient, resources available at that location, condition of the patient, weather conditions, the weight of the team members, their equipment and the patient, and current emergency transport services available in the local area are just some of the points considered in the 5 to 10 minutes it takes to determine if a mission can be accepted.

“Mercy Flight Central is thrilled to be partnering with the Upstate Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team,” said Erin Reese, RN, program director at Mercy Flight Central. “This service will serve to enhance and expedite the care provided to sick and injured children of  Central New York.”

Between 2009 and 2017, the Upstate Pediatric Critical Care Transport Team carried out an average of 173 transports each year. “Our team extends the expertise of the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit to children as far north as the Canadian border and as far south as northern Pennsylvania.  Flight capability afforded by this partnership with Mercy Flight Central will markedly reduce round trip times to get the patient to the intensive care unit.  A 9-hour round trip mission to Massena can be accomplished within 3 hours and a 6-hour mission to and from Albany will be reduced to 2 ½ hours,” Newmyer notes.

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