A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to ride along with the crews at IU Health LifeLine and let me tell you guys… it was incredible. Today I am recapping my experience and giving you some insight on this incredible service that Indy has.
MY DAY WITH AN IU HEALTH LIFELINE CREW
First, it’s important to know that the IU Health LifeLine team focuses on hospital transports of mostly critical care patients. They work to get patients to different hospitals with doctors who can help them and assist with medical needs. Their critical care bases are located in Richmond, Lafayette, Terre Haute, Columbus, and Indianapolis.
The day started with a transport from one hospital (X) to another (Y). A baby born just two hours earlier was diagnosed with Beckwith-Wiedemann syndrome had an omphalace that required surgery. For those of you who aren’t familiar with medical terms, essentially this baby had intestines on the outside of his belly. Since hospital X doesn’t handle pediatric surgery, the baby needed to be transported to hospital Y. The mom had to stay at hospital X as she was recovering from a C-Section so we took the baby to mom so she could touch him and say “see you later” before we made the transport. The LifeLine team protocol is to call mom upon arrival at hospital Y to let her know baby is safe and in great hands. I just thought that was awesome and shows how they value patient care.
When the IU Health lifeline team makes transports, there are generally three people on board. For adult patients there is an EMT, a paramedic, and a nurse, but for neo-natal patients there is generally a nurse and respiratory therapist. The LifeLine team is unique in that their training involves some kind of a hospital background. One of the nurses on the crew I rode with that day is also a nurse in the PICU at Riley. About 40% of their transports involve the neo-peds team.
The second transport we made that day was from a hospital on the southside. A little girl had been taken in by her mom for what mom thought might be a UTI. This six-year old’s life changed that day as she was diagnosed with diabetes. The hospital she was at is actually out-patient only and they have to have patients out within 23 hours. This patient was in for a lengthy hospital stay and needed care from the specialists at a different hospital.
When we arrived to pick her up, she was not happy because they’d just put a second IV in her arm, but man oh man she was so brave, much more so than I would have been at her age. She talked to us the entire way to the next hospital telling us about her summer plans, new little brother, and that she was hungry. As soon as we arrived at the hospital, the nurses and resident came right in to get a full history and start care.
Another thing that puts the IU Health LifeLine team a step above in patient care is their access to well-equipped ambulances and helicopters. For example, if a baby has lost oxygen during delivery and needs to be transported, they have units that can cool babies using techotherm neonatal cooling to help prevent brain damage. The technology in these moving vehicles is amazing and lifesaving.
I have an immense amount of respect for the IU Health LifeLine team. Without their work, patients would not receive the proper care they need because every hospital has different levels of care. This is something else I learned because in not having a health care background, I just assumed I’d be able to go to any hospital and they could provide what I need. That’s not the case and causes the need for these transfers to save lives.
My day with the IU Health LifeLine crew was eye-opening into a world that is very unfamiliar to me aside from my five rides as a patient in the back of ambulance. I’m so grateful to the crews that walked me through safety briefings and explained different medical terms throughout the day. You guys have an amazing job and I know you aren’t always thanked, but from the bottom of my heart I appreciate what you do to care for those patients in need.