By Cindy V. Culp
Waco Tribune-Herald via Associated Press
Children’s hospital gets special ambulance
Children ill enough to need a transfer from a local hospital to McLane Children’s Hospital Scott & White in Temple can now take the ride in style.
The hospital on Monday unveiled a custom-built ambulance designed to take better care of children’s medical needs while also making them and their families more comfortable. Referred to by hospital staff as a “virtual intensive care room on wheels,” the ambulance is eye-catching both because of its size and its bright color scheme.
“It’s really beautiful, very distinctive,” said Dr. John L. Boyd III, the hospital’s CEO and chief medical officer. “When people see this going down the road, they’ll know McLane Children’s Hospital is helping a child in need.”
The vehicle is about 50 percent bigger than a normal ambulance, Boyd said. Some of the extra space allows for a permanent place for specialized equipment. For example, the vehicle has liquid oxygen and medical compressed-air systems with enough capacity to not need refills even on lengthy trips, he said.
The ambulance also has two 50-gallon fuel tanks so it can travel across Central Texas without needing a fill-up.
“Everything is to(specifications),” Boyd said. “There’s nothing on there that’s standard.”
The ambulance also includes extra space for riders, making it possible for parents and even grandparents to ride along with a child, said Terry Valentino, the hospital’s director of trauma and transport services. The ambulance’s oversized cab can seat three relatives, along with the driver. There is also room for family members in the back of the ambulance, he said.
The ambulance’s color scheme is intentionally bright, featuring a colorful interior designed to appeal to children, Valentino said. In addition, the vehicle has features such as a ceiling-mounted DVD player so children can watch movies during the ride, he said.
“It keeps (patients) distracted and makes them more comfortable,” Valentino said of the special touches.
Many children’s hospitals invest in specialty ambulances because of the unique needs of pediatric and neonatal patients, Boyd said. The $280,000 cost of Scott & White’s new vehicle was paid for by funds raised through the Children’s Miracle Network, primarily donations collected by employees at Walmart and Sam’s Club stores in the region, he said.
The hospital, which opened in fall 2011, conducts nearly 100 hospital-to-hospital transfers each month, Boyd said. It hopes to use the new ambulance for 50 percent to 75 percent of those trips. Regular ambulances will continue to be used the rest of the time, he said.
Starting in May, the hospital will also have a dedicated helicopter for air transports, Boyd said. It will be used for children located farther away or those who need urgent transport, he said.
Most patients come from within a 90-mile radius of the hospital, Boyd said. The hospital has 112 beds and averages between 85 and 90 patients each day, he said.