November 11, 2005

Children’s Hospital helipad makes debut

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LifeFlight last week made its first landing at the new helipad on top the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Anne Rayner

Children’s Hospital helipad makes debut

Last week, LifeFlight began landing at the newly built helipad atop the Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt, bringing approximately two to three children per day directly to the hospital for life-saving treatment.

“The helipad on VCH will dramatically enhance patient care by providing for faster access in critical pediatric emergencies,” said Jeanne Yeatman, R.N., M.B.A., program director for LifeFlight. “The team is extraordinarily grateful and appreciative to the donors who made it possible and to Dr. Ian Burr (associate vice chancellor for Children’s Health Services) for his facilitation of the acquisition of the helipad funding.”

Out of the 2,500 flights made each year by LifeFlight, one in five involve children. The helipad was built so it can be temporarily removed and repositioned when the hospital adds more floors.

At a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, donors Bobby and Kathy Rolfe and representatives from the Christy-Houston Foundation were thanked for making the project possible through their donations. Harry Jacobson, M.D., vice chancellor of Health Affairs, talked about building bridges at the event, saying that, in essence, what the helipad does is bridge time and distance between critically ill children and the top level of pediatric care in the region.

The helipad helped bridge the distance between Tullahoma, Tenn., and the Children's Hospital when 4-year-old Jane Allen needed it the most. The little girl's airway was closing down after a “freak” accident at her daycare.

“She had been playing with friends when she fell and her neck struck the back of a chair,” said the girl's mother, Jacquista Christman. “Between the time the daycare called me and I actually got there, her whole face and neck had swollen up.”

The little girl had torn the back of her windpipe and was quickly going into respiratory distress. The local hospital called LifeFlight to get her to Children's Hospital as quickly as possible.

“I was so nervous on the drive over to the hospital,” Christman said. “But on the way, the flight nurse called us and said she had already arrived and that a team of people from the Children's Hospital had been right there waiting for her on the pad. It was so comforting.”

Jane is doing better now and should recover fully. Her mother is grateful for the LifeFlight service.

The $1.1 million helipad, painted with the hospital's trademark paper dolls, will shorten transport time for patients like Jane by several minutes — eliminating the need to move them from the helipad atop the adult hospital and down a 400 yard connector to reach the Children's Hospital.