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University of Missouri Health Care News Releases
Walmart gift inspires unique ambulance design

COLUMBIA, Mo. — The pediatric transport team at University of Missouri Children’s Hospital unveiled the newest ambulance in its fleet, a custom-built state-of-the-art ambulance featuring side-loading doors and a kid-friendly design, during a ceremony at Women’s and Children’s Hospital today (Tuesday, Nov. 22).

The $142,000 ambulance was fully funded through donations from 12 mid-Missouri Walmart and Sam’s Club stores. Throughout 2010, money was raised by customers and associates at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores located in Columbia, Jefferson City, Versailles, Eldon, Boonville, Moberly, Mexico and Fulton. In addition, associates at the Walmart Distribution Center in Moberly raised money during the campaign.

“We are grateful to Walmart, Sam’s Club, their associates and the residents of mid-Missouri who gave from their hearts to support the purchase of this new, state-of-the-art ambulance,” said John Pardalos, M.D., a neonatologist at University of Missouri Health Care and medical director of the transport service. “Our new ambulance will fulfill a critical role in providing rapid transport care to children throughout the state of Missouri.”

Ambulances have historically provided rear-loading access for patients, but Children’s Hospital’s newest ambulance features side-loading doors — one on each side of the ambulance. The design allows two patients to be transported simultaneously and provides a safer and more efficient environment for the nurse and respiratory therapist responsible for providing life-saving care to the patient while in route to the hospital.

“As far as we know, there is no other ambulance like this in the world,” said John Wood, an emergency medical technician (EMT) with MU Children’s Hospital’s pediatric transport team and co-designer of the new ambulance. “We took the traditional ambulance design and sought improvements to the layout to make the ambulance safer for the crew and the patients we serve.”

Wood and fellow pediatric transport team member Dan McGavock armed themselves with a tape measure and a goal of improving the safety of the crew and patients riding in the back of an ambulance. The pair worked with designers and engineers to custom-build an ambulance that features two rotating swivel seats for the nurse and respiratory therapist to sit rear- or front-facing and administer care to one or two patients at a time. Cabinets stocked with common medical equipment such as intravenous pumps and medicine are within an arm’s reach, so crew members never need to leave their seats when providing care.

“The ambulance is our office, and we owe it to ourselves and our patients to create a work environment focused on delivering safe, quality care.” said McGavock. “Our new design is already creating a lot of interest and discussion among other pediatric ambulance providers who see our ambulance as a model for future design.”

The pediatric transport team at MU Children’s Hospital averages 500 patient transports a year. Many of these transports require the team to travel two to three hours one way to pick up a patient needing highly specialized care from MU Children’s Hospital.

Special features on board all MU Children’s Hospital ambulances include ventilators for babies and older children, cardiac monitoring equipment, intravenous pumps, mobile isolettes for infant transportation, pediatric stretchers and seating to allow parents to accompany their children en route. In addition, the ambulance features kid-friendly décor, a television and a DVD player.

In July 1973, neonatologist Elizabeth James, M.D., founded the first neonatal transport team at MU Health Care. Today, the 31-member pediatric transport team combines the specialized expertise of registered nurses, respiratory therapists, emergency medical technicians, and neonatal and pediatric physicians to deliver rapid, specialized care to pediatric patients.

Children’s Hospital is the largest and most comprehensive pediatric health care center in mid-Missouri. Housed at Women’s and Children’s Hospital, the 100-bed hospital is the only facility in mid-Missouri offering comprehensive, specialized children’s services such as neonatal transport, child life therapy, a pediatric intensive care unit and a pediatric hematology and oncology outpatient unit.

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