by Anayeli Ruiz
When an emergency strikes, every second counts and now Medical Center Hospital has added a new service to help newborn infants who are in need of medical help. On Tuesday, NewsWest 9 got an exclusive sneak peak on how this will help 17 counties in West Texas.
It's part of the neonatal intensive care unit, otherwise know as the NICU. It's a new way of transporting newborns faster in case of an emergency situation. Before transportation was done by ambulance and now they get to use the CareStar Chopper.
"I'm excited for the simulation/inaugural flight is taking off," NICU Transporter, Melinda Nowell said.
Melinda Nowell has been working in the NICU unit for more than 18 years and for the last 4 years she's been transporting patients on the ground. But now with this new change, she will be helping the same patients by taking to the skies.
"We are able to pick up patients quicker than an ambulance, get there and do the job and get back in a sufficient manner," Nowell said.
Children's Miracle Network was able to purchase two of the transporting units. They each cost about $105,000 and both transports can take one baby at a time. Since they have two choppers, if needed, they would be able to move two babies at the same time and some area drives are so long that this would save them time.
"Were looking at 5-6 hour drive from that area, where as with the helicopter, it's a one and half flight," CareStar Program Director, Mike Marshall, said.
The new transportation will be able to move the babies in a safe controlled environment. This new way of transportation will go perfect with the new wing that is being added to Medical Center Hospital.
The new Center for Women and Infants is planning to be open by the end of the year and it has a special area for the NICU patients.
"It's an added benefit because we are expanding services with the new Medical Center Wing," Marshall said.
Tuesday was their first simulation/inaugural flight for the team. From this point on, they will be able to offer these services for babies who are in need in the West Texas and the New Mexico region.