The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

June 9, 2009

Children's health: 10 years on the roll

Geisinger team transports very young, very sick

By Gina Morton

DANVILLE — The neonatal transport team at Geisinger Medical Center has two reasons to celebrate: its 10th anniversary and its 1,000 ground transport.

A specially-trained team of nurses and therapists, the group travels to outlying hospitals to pick up sick infants and provide them with the care they need.

The ambulance, purchased 10 years ago with funds from the Children’s Miracle Network telethon, was bought brand new and has yet to be replaced.

Inside, it has holding areas for up to two babies — in case of twins. The areas contain ventilators, a full monitor to keep watch on vital signs and machines to blend gas for oxygen for the infants. A hydraulic lift goes up and down to safely remove the babies from the vehicle.

“We deal with pre-term infants from 30 to 34 weeks,” said Dana Gessner, a registered nurse certified with the team. “But we will take any newly born baby up to 14 days at home. The baby needs to be considered neonatal.”

The earliest gestation the team will transport is 23 weeks.

The team also works with Life Flight which is used if the baby is more than 60 minutes away or is so critical it can’t wait for a ground vehicle to arrive.

There are about 270 to 280 transports a year by the team. Half are on the ground and half are done in the air.

“We’re the major (Neonatal Intensive Care Unit) in the northeast area,” said Ruth Mull, registered nurse certified. “We’re all specially trained in different areas.”

Wally Pabst is the main ambulance driver. Other drivers are Mary Brittain and Jay Zartman.

The transport nurses are Ruth Mull, Dana Gessner, Heidi Norman, Janet Oxenrider, Sandy Wiest, Kelly Worthington, Patty Lobianco, Angela Hoover and Jill Scheller,

The respiratory transport therapists are Becky Anstadt, Cathy Beeler, Michael Bingaman, Lori Bruick, Cheryl Fenstermaker, Christine Harvey, Kelli Miller, Joe Mlinarich, Jason Pierce, Brenda Morgan, Michael Richardson, Beth Ritter, Judy Sterner and Laurie Wallace.

The special trainings helps in the variety of situations that the team can encounter through their daily travels.

The team will travel as far as Bradford, Altoona, New York and Ohio. Most are generally hospital patients.