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Sacred Heart Dedicates New Ambulances For Kids

Linda Dunwoody

Sacred Heart Health System Friday unveiled new, state-of-the-art vehicles for the hospital-to-hospital transport of newborns through age 18, to and from Children’s Hospital in Pensacola.

“That’s what this is all about,” said Sacred Heart Hospital President Henry Stovall. “It’s about children who are in crisis, families who are in an emergency. And they look to the Children’s Hospital at Sacred Heart for help. Sometimes, desperate help.”

Sacred Heart President Henry Stovall, speaking inside the portico at Children’s Hospital. The original dedication and blessing was scheduled for just outside the main entrance, but was moved to avoid near-freezing temperatures.

The vehicles’ operate under the official title “Regional Neonatal and Pediatric Transport Service.” They provide services to about 250 premature and critically ill infants and children annually, within a 250-mile radius of Pensacola. In attendance were 17 crew members, dressed in purple jump suits, who will staff the vehicles 24/7/365.

The pediatric ambulances – one to be housed at the Pensacola campus, the other at Sacred Heart Emerald Coast at Miramar Beach -- were then blessed, through prayers and the sprinkling of holy water, by Father George Thekku, an in-house priest at Sacred Heart.

After the ceremony, Dr. Rob Patterson, Children Hospital’s Medical Director, said the vehicles – linked to the hospital via satellite – enables them to do real-time telemedicine while the patient is en route.

“So that I, as an intensive care physician in the actual intensive care unit, can get biofeedback from the patients themselves,” said Patterson. “I can see what their vital signs are, things like that. They can even put a stethoscope down on the patient’s chest. And I can hear that through my computer.”  

Another addition, to the Scared Heart Health System’s AIR-Heart fleet, is a Bell 407 air ambulance, which covers up to a 250-mile radius of its base in Crestview. The aircraft is equipped to transport adults and critically ill newborns – with a specially trained flight nurse and EMS professional on board.

Dave came to WUWF in September, 2002, after 14 years as News Director at the Alabama Radio Network in Montgomery, Mobile and Birmingham and a total of 27 years in commercial radio. He's also served as Alabama Bureau Chief for United Press International, and a stringer for the Birmingham Post-Herald.