Neonatal team helping infants across region - WSMV News 4

Neonatal team helping infants across region

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At Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, there's a special team devoted to helping infants get the best care possible to improve their chances for survival.

The Neonatal Transport Team is transporting these fragile patients from areas of the region to Nashville.

Eleven weeks early was not what Chris and Katie Rude wanted for their first son, Coen, but almost a month into his little life, the care he's getting is making his life more comfortable.

The Kingsport, TN, couple took the advice of doctors and sent Coen to Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.

But to get him from east Tennessee to Nashville, a special neonatal team was put in charge to safely move the child.

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is one of a handful of hospitals specializing in neonatal transport.

Two teams stand ready 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to visit smaller, less-equipped hospitals to better meet the needs of patients.

"We cover everything from the north of Alabama to the south of Kentucky, west to Jackson, TN, and east to Knoxville by ground, but we can go to a much larger area by fixed wing," said Neonatal Transport manager Jerry Ballhagen.

The fixed wing is part of the LifeFlight fleet that is faster than a helicopter.

"You also get a little bit of an adrenaline rush while you're out in the field," said Aimee Longo of the Neonatal transport team. "There's a lot of times that we're able to get the baby back to the hospital and they do wonderful."

The team covers most of Tennessee, but has traveled as far away as Massachusetts. In all, the team handles about 800 calls a year.

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