Training to help tiny patients fight for their lives
Members of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team provide emergency care for an infant in critical condition. Thankfully this is only a drill. But they're not at DHMC, rather just down the road at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.
"Our closest NICUs are Burlington, down in Manchester and then over in Portland, Maine. So, we cover a really large region," said Mike Frace of DHMC.
The neonatal transport team is traveling to rural hospitals throughout the region, working out the kinks during an emergency response that are only uncovered on-site. From something as simple as knowing where to go, to the more complex, like forming essential work relationships with hospital staff members who they have never met.
"As much as we plan to try to get the moms to their appropriate facility prior to birth, sometimes things happen and they need the higher level of care," said Melissa Underhill of Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital.
It's the same DHART staff that responds by helicopter on the region's most serious cases. On this rainy day, the ground transport is the only option. While aboard, the training continues.
"We have all gone out for kiddos that we have gone to pick up and they are not what we expect. And, we do get some serious and critical situations. This really helps us hone those skills," said Bethany Dewkett, a nurse.
Back at DHMC, on more familiar ground, the team sticks to the task as if it were a real case. A full day's work that leaves a lasting impact on the hospital they responded to, providing education and improving outcomes.
"They are coming into our hospital, they are learning where everything is and they are forming a relationship with the nursing staff, which is wonderful," Dewkett said.
"Doing these simulations in the community really helps us with our teamwork, our neonatal transport team, as well as the community hospital providers, the nurses and the respiratory therapists to work together," Frace said.
Alice Peck is the first of four facilities lined up for the on-site training, forming a bond between hospitals and those on the front lines of medicine, with the ultimate goal of saving lives.
DHART responds to several hospitals in Vermont. Anyone interested in taking part in the training, can contact Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center.