October 2, 2019

Children’s Hospital debuts enhanced helipad

The return of the Children’s Hospital helipad, painted with the hospital’s trademark paper dolls, will shorten the transport time for patients by several minutes — essentially eliminating the need to shuttle patients along a 400-yard connector to reach the freestanding, pediatric hospital.

The Children’s Hospital helipad is reopening after a three-year hiatus. (photo by Joe Howell)

by Jessica Pasley

As construction on the $150 million expansion of Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital moves into the second phase, medical teams are welcoming the return of a key piece of the facility’s structure — a 2,000- square-foot helipad.

It’s been three years since a helicopter carrying some of the most critically ill and injured pediatric patients has landed atop Children’s Hospital.

The helipad serves more than 10 air medical service agencies from across Tennessee, southern Kentucky, northern Alabama and other surrounding states that bring nearly 500 patients annually to the hospital for life-saving treatment.

One of the unique features of the helipad is the video reporting system which allows the hospital team  receiving a patient via helicopter to obtain a live video report from the helipad. This communication approach was instituted during the more than 36 months that helicopters transporting children had to land at one of the two Vanderbilt University Adult Hospital helipads.

“One of the most exciting things about the new helipad that we have incorporated is the video reporting functions,” said Jeremy Crawford, BSN, RN, clinical business coordinator for Emergency Services at Children’s Hospital. “The system allows for a safe patient handoff, which includes a full status report on the patient, as well as permits flight crews to promptly return to service rather than accompany the patient to the Emergency Department.

“Essentially, we are able to use telemedicine technology to allow our team in the Emergency Department to obtain all the necessary information, vitals and patient status in order to best prepare to move forward with the optimal treatment protocol for the patient.”

The video reporting was initially incorporated as a temporary solution when the Children’s Hospital helipad was closed to begin construction for the four-floor expansion. Once in use, the medical teams and flight crews experienced a more efficient patient transfer.

The return of the Children’s Hospital helipad, painted with the hospital’s trademark paper dolls, will shorten the transport time for patients.

The helipad was made possible by the Christy-Houston Foundation with generous support from Mr. and Mrs. Robert Oliver Rolfe.

“We are so excited that the Children’s Hospital helipad is opening,” said Stephan Russ, MD, MPH, associate chief of staff for Access. “Vanderbilt University Medical Center operates one of the busiest heliports in the state, and it took a team effort to bridge the gap while the Children’s Hospital was undergoing its vertical expansion.

“The flight crews, communication teams and emergency department staff have done an exceptional job in managing both adult and pediatric patient transports, under sometimes challenging circumstances.

“Minutes matter,” said Russ.

“Having the new helipad in close proximity to the state-of-the-art treatment spaces at Children’s Hospital provides the optimal situation for pediatric patients.”