Covenant Children’s expands pediatric transportation service


LUBBOCK, Texas — Covenant Children’s Hospital partnered with Global Medical Response to add a helicopter to its emergency transport services fleet. The hospital said in a news conference Thursday morning that the helicopter specializes in neonatal care and high speeds to reduce response times and assist a broad range of pediatric cases.

Cherish Brodbeck, the coordinator of specialty transport services, said the hospital sees about 300 patients using VR transport annually, and that number significantly increased over the last couple of years.

Dr. Amy Thompson, CEO of Covenant Children’s Hospital, introduced the aircraft, saying, “One of the things that [the helicopter] will allow us to do is to have easier and faster transport for kids that are found all over our region who needs specialized pediatric care.”

The twin-engine helicopter is equipped to serve neonatal patients. Brodbeck said, “This aircraft will have oxygen, which is a little different than what you would see in a traditional aircraft.”

Brodbeck explained that the aircraft provides “very different care” than what you would provide to other children and adults.

The hospital said that the helicopter would bring improvements in response times.

Current response times average between 40 and 45 minutes from the time the service request is made to the time the transport team lifts off from the hospital’s helipad.

The new aircraft will cut that time in half, Brodbeck said at the news conference.

Covenant Children’s is fully staffed for the rollout of the aircraft, which is set to start servicing the community in early 2022.

“We have 10 pediatric, 10 neonatal and five respiratory therapists that will function on the transport teams,” Brodbeck stated, “which will completely staff us 24/7, 365 days a year.”

The following is a press release from Covenant Health:

LUBBOCK, Texas- Covenant Children’s is proud to announce the expansion of our pediatric transportation service with the addition of an emergency transport helicopter.

The EC 135 twin-engine helicopter will be in service starting early 2022. It features room for three providers and the patient, as well as the pilot and an additional rider. It has a 300+ mile reach and can fly at a speed of 135 knots, or 155 miles per hour. The pilot will be equipped with night-vision goggles to safely monitor the skies at night.

Covenant Children’s is the only freestanding children’s hospital between Fort Worth and Albuquerque. By adding this helicopter to our fleet of emergency transport vehicles, we will continue to provide the best care for children in our region as close to home as possible.

“Covenant Children’s is proud to serve such a large portion of West Texas and eastern New Mexico,” Covenant Children’s CEO Dr. Amy Thompson said. “With such a large region comes some unique challenges. This helicopter will help us quickly and safely respond to the emergent needs of our pediatric population, getting our patients the expert pediatric care they need while staying as close to home as possible.”

Over the past two years, we have seen an increase in the number of transfers to our hospital, especially patients needing neonatal intensive care. 

Children deserve specialized care with experts and equipment that best fit their needs. In an emergency situation, seconds count. Our transportation services and highly trained pediatric and neonatal transportation teams are on call 24/7.

The decision for a patient to be transported by ground or air is made by the physician providing care based on what will influence the best outcome. Any cost to the patient is first billed to insurance and there is no additional cost for the use of the specialty transport teams.

End of release.

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