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Published on April 24, 2018

Neonatal Transport Service and NeoNET available 24/7

Heidi Hodgins, RN, NNP

Heidi Hodgins, RN, NNP, Gundersen Neonatal Transport Team

When faced with a critically ill newborn, you know time is of the essence. With one call, you can set Gundersen Health System's Neonatal Transport Service in motion.

The highly specialized team transports infants of all sizes by helicopter or ambulance to Gundersen's Level 3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) in La Crosse. The team is fully equipped to bring the NICU to you during transfer by stabilizing the baby and providing monitoring and treatment, and continuing through admission.

During your phone call, you will talk directly with a Gundersen Health System neonatologist at which time you may discuss:

  • Strategies to optimize immediate care of the newborn in the community hospital
  • Whether the baby would benefit from transfer
  • Evaluation and stabilization of the baby pending the arrival of the Gundersen Neonatal Transport Team
  • The mode of transport (air or ambulance)

A trademark of Gundersen's neonatal flight program is its urgent response to the referring facility and medical team. "For example, we deploy our flight team to the referring location prior to the baby being born, allowing us to save precious time and provide rapid medical intervention," states Gundersen Neonatal Transport team leader Heidi Hodgins, RN, NNP.

NeoNET enhances care of critically ill newborns

Kate Moen, MD, FAAP

Kate Moen, MD, FAAP, Gundersen Neonatology

In 2015, Gundersen began offering a newborn emergency telemedicine service, known as NeoNET, to tri-state area hospitals to provide a higher level of consultation. Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah, Iowa, and Tomah Memorial Hospital in Tomah, Wis., were the first hospitals to implement the telemedicine service. Now, there are 12 active sites throughout the Tri-state Region.

Seeing a baby in real time while consulting with a physician has definite advantages, according to Gundersen neonatologist and medical director Kate Moen, MD, FAAP. "With a telemedicine unit, we can listen to the baby's heart rate with a stethoscope and talk to the referring provider while simultaneously examining the color of the baby, its movement, alertness and any signs of respiratory distress. It helps us make a better decision about whether the baby needs to be transferred or if we can work with the provider to treat the infant. It is a win-win for everyone, and sometimes means decreasing unnecessary travel for families," explains Dr. Moen.

If a transfer is necessary, NeoNET plays a key role in helping to stabilize the baby and prepare the transport team for the condition of the infant prior to their arrival.

Once the baby arrives at Gundersen's NICU, he or she benefits from a variety of sub-specialty pediatric expertise, all collaboratively working together to deliver exceptional care for the critically ill newborn. "Our staff also provides you with feedback and updates you on the baby's progress, and you can reach the neonatologist at any time by calling the MedLink number," adds Heidi.

To obtain a consult or neonatal transport, call MedLink at (800) 336-5465. Neonatal consultation and transport services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For more information about establishing NeoNET at your location, call MedLink at (800) 336-5465 and ask for Kimberly Hable, RN, Department of Regional Services, at ext. 58708.

Neonatal Transport Team expands

Gundersen Health System's specially trained Neonatal Transport Team includes board certified neonatologists, pediatric critical care physicians, neonatal nurse practitioners, NICU respiratory therapists, and a flight nurse or paramedic if the baby is transported by Gundersen AIR.

The newest members of the team include three neonatal nurse practitioners. They provide direct support for both ground and flight requests, in turn infusing a high level of expertise and technical skills into the patient’s management of care in flight or via ground.

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