Neonatal Transport Team on 24-hour alert to help seriously ill babies

Every baby needs TLC – but some need more than that. Infants with serious health problems need specialized care. Sometimes that care is not available locally. Standing by to help – 24X7, every day of the year – is the MCH’s Neonatal Transport Team.

“When we receive a request from a community hospital, a two-person team sets out to bring the infant safely back to the Children’s,” explains Dr. Louis Beaumier, Medical Director of the Neonatal Transport Program. “Each team is made up of a specially trained nurse and a respiratory therapist (RT).”

Care starts as soon as the team arrives in the host hospital. Young patients are monitored, treated and given special support while they are transported back to the Children’s. Last year, about 380 infants were transported by the team and hospitalized.

Young patients come from all over Quebec

The Neonatal Transport Team is dispatched almost daily to help infants around Montreal, or as far away as Mont Laurie or Trois Rivieres.  “We even get babies from the Abitibi region,” says Diane Lalonde, neo-natal nurse educator and program co-founder. “They are flown into Montreal, where we pick them up.”

In addition to managing the program, Lalonde is responsible for training transport nurses and upgrading their skills. Newcomers receive formal training in neonatal transport, and then work for as much as a year with an experienced transport nurse. The team’s RTs also receive special training.

Being a team member is demanding. Patient numbers have steadily increased, and patients tend to be even sicker than before. “We get the most serious cases, because referring hospitals are able to keep sick infants longer, thanks to improvements in their own facilities,” explains Dr. Beaumier.

Working on the Transport Team also has huge rewards. “Team members enjoy the responsibility and autonomy of the job,” Lalonde says. “Naturally, babies’ parents are extremely appreciative – and of course there’s the extraordinary satisfaction of helping a sick infant through a difficult time.”