En images
Text: William Türler
Photo: Gilles Weber

An ambulance for newborns

Neonatology A new medical system for transporting infants was created in early 2017. In Vivo” reports on the transfer of a very young patient from Lausanne to Morges.

The Lausanne University Hospital Neonatal Service contains the only neonatal intensive care unit for the cantons of Vaud, Valais, Fribourg and Neuchâtel. Around 16,000 babies are born in this region every year. When an infant requires intensive care, doctors call on the service’s highly specialised emergency transport team to continue the child’s treatment at Lausanne University Hospital.

“Specialised emergency medical teams transport around 250 to 300 patients each year,” explains Matthias Roth-Kleiner, head physician at the Neonatal Service. “Once the patient becomes stable, which can be days or even weeks after he or she is admitted to Lausanne University Hospital, a second transfer to the hospital closest to the parents’ home is discussed with the infant’s parents and the new hospital’s paediatricians. These transfers require the same highly specialised type of equipment. The large number of sick newborns requiring transport justifies the use of a dedicated ‘baby rescue’ ambulance.”

1/ At the CHUV

Following treatment at the hospital, which can vary in duration, the patient stabilises enough to be transferred to a hospital close to the parents’ home to continue treatment. The patient is swaddled and kept warm in a transport incubator.

2/ Departure

A transport incubator is the smallest possible version of an intensive care unit. It is also mobile. The incubator can be used to transport babies in ambulances, helicopters, and Rega planes, known as Swiss Air-Ambulances.

3/ In the ambulance

The placement of the equipment allows the transport team to monitor the patient as if he or she were still hospitalised in the neonatal intensive care unit. High-performance shock absorbers and a specially designed attachment system mean the newborn can be transported in complete safety. If needed, the team can still reach the infant through portholes.

4/ Arrival

Once the ambulance reaches the new hospital, the transport team provides a medical report to the personnel who will take over and continue the patient’s treatment.
The newborn is then removed from the incubator and placed in his or her new bed.

5/ At the new hospital

The new team of doctors and nurses performs a clinical intake exam on the patient then connects the newborn
to monitoring equipment.

The porthole is closed to keep the patient’s environment
warm and calm.