Taking Care Higher: How Pediatric Flights Give Children A Fighting Chance
We love our children!
Their laughter brings joy. Their smile brightens even the most dismal of days. Out of their mouths pour delightful remarks, often filled with insight as they speak with simplicity from a pure heart. Children are precious.
As parents and guardians, we strive to guard their innocence and protect them from anything that could potentially bring harm. When a child suffers minor injury or illness, it pains us. But when a child suffers from serious medical issues it breaks our hearts. For these children, seeking and providing care options can become one of the greatest challenges a parent or guardian will face.
When considering care options two questions may immediately come to mind; (1) which hospital is best prepared to care for my child, and (2) how will I get my child to the hospital I have selected or that has been recommended?
Seeking Best Care Options For Children
According to the Children’s Hospital Association, 1 in 20 U.S. hospitals is a children's hospital. The American Hospital Association informs us that there are just over 5,000 Community hospitals, and the United States Census Bureau estimates there to be 74 million children under the age of 18. This is approximately 250 hospitals caring for our nation's children.
Because of their age and immaturity, all children are considered vulnerable. From birth to adulthood, they have unique needs - from age-appropriate immunizations and regular preventive care to more acute illnesses and injuries. Children's hospitals play a vital role in caring for our young ones. Therefore, well-trained and motivated healthcare professionals focused on each stage of a child's development, furthers the best possible medical outcomes.
Fourteen years ago, U.S. News & World Report began publishing a review, with the intention of providing an excellent guide for parents and guardians seeking the very best care options for their children.
For 2020-21, U.S. News & World Report listed the ten hospitals earning a place on the Best Children's Hospitals Honor Roll. In the order of their ranking and direct links to each hospital, here is that list:
- Texas Children's Hospital, Houston
- Children's National Hospital, Washington, D.C.
- Nationwide Children's Hospital, Columbus, Ohio
- Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford, Palo Alto, California
The U.S. News & World Report Best Children's Hospitals rankings further identified 88 hospitals with demonstrated expertise in one or more of 10 pediatric specialties: Cancer, Cardiology & Heart Surgery, Endocrinology, Gastroenterology, Neonatology, Nephrology, Neurology & Neurosurgery, Orthopedics, Pulmonology & Lung Surgery and Urology. How U.S. News & World Report analyzes this data and pulls it together is fully disclosed and available in the Best Children's Hospitals Methodology Report.
Each of these hospitals, in concert with their dedicated staff, are committed to the ongoing contributions they make every day towards the health and well-being of children everywhere. For added peace of mind, once you make a decision on which hospital is the best choice for your child, you can visit their website to look at "outcomes." Here is one example: Boston Children's Heart Center shows excellent outcomes in their surgical survival rates. In reviewing these outcomes, benchmarked against the national rates, you can see the results for each level of surgical complexity. Boston Children's Hospital is just one example of hospitals around the country, leading the way in pediatric care.
Children's hospitals within the United States are well-respected and considered amongst the finest in the world.
Transporting Children to Their Next Level of Care
During the process of seeking care, it may become evident that the best option lies with a hospital outside the city, or state, where you and your family live. In the case of serious injuries or illness, it will become necessary to choose the best method of transportation.
Have you considered an air ambulance?
What do you think of when you hear “air ambulance”? Do the words evoke images of helicopters transporting individuals from accident scenes to the nearest hospital? Most assuredly, in emergent situations, this method of air medical transportation is both critical and necessary. That stated, another essential within the air ambulance services industry are fixed-wing aircrafts. These planes have the capability of being medically configured into intensive care units, also known as flying ICU’s. Where helicopters travel shorter distances, fixed-wing air ambulances fly patients on long-distance transports, flying pediatric patients to centers of excellence throughout the United States.
Consider these points when choosing your child’s air ambulance provider:
- Look for a provider whose flight crew and clinical team are focused on safety and the delivery of high quality, patient-centered care.
- Look for a provider who exceeds required air medical transport certification standards. Can you imagine how different it must be to care for a patient being flown thousands of feet in the air, for hundreds, perhaps thousands of miles -vs.- on the ground, in a hospital where every resource is readily available? Therefore, you will want clinicians with not only the years of experience in critical care but also who have the added designation of flight certification; Certified Flight Registered Nurse (CFRN) and Flight Paramedic Certified (FP-C).
- Look for a provider who partners with hospital case managers and social workers to provide a seamless, less stressful experience for patients and their families.
- Look for a provider with a flight coordination team dedicated to simplifying the process and saving you time through their logistical handling of the bedside-to-bedside transfer.
- Look for a provider with insurance specialists who will streamline the insurance process by handling the verification of benefits and preauthorization request submissions.
- Look for a provider who is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year; Ready to assist day and night.
©Danielle Rowland Photography
Flying Bella Grace
To conclude, here is a story about beautiful Bella Grace, who will, by the way, be celebrating her 2nd birthday this August. Bella was born in Ames, Iowa. A few days after her birth, tests revealed a brain abnormality. The hospital Bella was born in did not have the capability to treat her, so she was immediately transferred to Des Moines. The diagnosis left Bella’s family heartbroken. Bella had a rare brain disorder known as hemimegalencephaly (HME) and she was experiencing “20-40 seizures per hour, non-stop, despite several seizure medications”.
It became obvious, very quickly, that the medical team in Des Moines could not bring comfort to Bella’s family. The initial solution proposed was not acceptable because there were serious repercussions to waiting on treatment. A family friend began to investigate solutions and came across a story about another infant, with the same rare brain disorder, who found relief from the seizures through an innovative clinical approach. The challenge for Bella’s family became the location of this hospital; it was over 1000 miles away!
So, at 8 days old beautiful Bella Grace flew her first flight, on a fixed-wing air ambulance transport to Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. You can read this extraordinary story in its entirety by clicking on Bella’s Story.
The air ambulance industry is taking care higher, providing children, a fighting chance, as they journey on to their next level of care
Karen Derr, EMBA
Business Development Manager
Karen is the Business Development Manager at Angel MedFlight Worldwide Air Ambulance, heading up relationship management across the country. She specializes in engaging healthcare professionals at conferences and facility in-services from coast-to-coast. She has her Bachelor’s in Communication and an Executive MBA with an emphasis in Leadership. Karen has worked in Marketing and Relationship Management for the majority of her career, in addition to teaching college-level Marketing, Business, and Management courses.