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Big Advancements in Safely Delivering Tiny Packages

OTTAWA, September 7, 2018 – OTTAWA, September 7, 2018 – A pilot project undertaken between CHEO and the Ottawa Paramedic Services that developed and implemented an improved way of transporting critically ill newborns has been shown to decrease serious safety complications and optimize the quality of care for sick infants across the region.

The Neonatal Transportation Unit combined a specialized transport team with dedicated land ambulances that were specially fitted with the equipment needed for neonatal emergency care. When there was a need to transport a newborn from a community hospital to CHEO, which can provides a more specialized level of care, the Neonatal Transportation Unit acted as a mobile intensive care unit that could assess, stabilize and perform the procedures needed before and during transport.

“With the dedicated Neonatal Transportation Unit, the times for response, stabilization and admission to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit were all reduced, which is critically important for very sick babies,” says Dr. Stephanie Redpath, Medical Director of CHEO’s neonatal transport team, co-author of the paper and one of the creators of the pilot project. “Delayed access to timely critical care services may contribute to death or significant morbidities resulting in life-long challenges for patients and families. During the project, we demonstrated a 19% reduction in the time for patients to reach the NICU.”

For this pilot, the Ottawa Paramedic Services dedicated two Paramedics, with back-ups, the vehicles were prepared and stocked with specialty neonatal equipment. The team was able to perform the full range of neonatal intensive care monitoring and treatment anytime and anywhere.

“This partnership with CHEO demonstrates how progressive initiatives improve patient care, efficiency of inter-facility patient movement and provide reassurance for families; it’s an example to be used province wide,” says Jill Deboer, Hospital Liaison/Diversity Champion Project Lead with the Ottawa Paramedic Service and co-author on the paper. “With a dedicated, modified vehicle at the ready for any neonatal inter-facility transport, Paramedics are gratified with the resulting decreased response times and reduction of delays for the most vulnerable newborns.”

The pilot project was funded by the Scottie’s Angels Fund through the CHEO Foundation, a fund dedicated to the short life of Scottie who was born prematurely and died at the age of seven months.

The results of the study were published today in Canadian Paramedicine.

Key results:

13% reduction in total transport

16% reduction in response and stabilization times

Significant decrease of Paramedic injury claims specifically related to neonatal calls from 1.5 per month to zero experienced during the pilot project.

Embodies a standard and partnership with emergency medical services (EMS) that is easily reproducible leading to similar integration and efficiency modeling across the health care system.

This pilot model has successfully enabled a change in practice that:
Immediately addresses significant ongoing patient and staff safety concerns
Optimizes quality care for sick infants while removing the burden of response from community 911 responders
Bypasses the need for changes to the Ambulance Act
Facilitates both an appropriate and resourceful redirection of funds
Embodies a standard and partnership with emergency medical services (EMS) that is easily reproducible leading to similar integration and efficiency modeling across the health care system


About the CHEO Research Institute:

The CHEO Research Institute coordinates the research activities of CHEO and is affiliated with the University of Ottawa. Its three programs of research are molecular biomedicine, health information technology, and evidence to practice research. Key themes include cancer, diabetes, obesity, mental health, emergency medicine, musculoskeletal health, electronic health information and privacy, and genetics of rare disease. The CHEO Research Institute makes discoveries today for healthier kids tomorrow. For more information, visit

For more information:

Aynsley Morris
CHEO Research Institute
W. 613 737-7600 x 4144
M. 613 914-3059
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