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Pandemic causes pediatric patient transfers at BAMC

With a rise in COVID cases, units like the Critical Care Air Transport team will assist by moving pediatric patients safely to children's hospitals.
Credit: 59th Medical Wing Public Affairs
A 59th Medical Wing Pediatric Critical Care Air Transport Team provides care to a five-month-old patient on board a C-17 Globemaster III headed to California, Oct. 9, 2020. The patient and his family were traveling from the neonatal intensive care unit in Hawaii to Texas. (Courtesy photo)

SAN ANTONIO — As the number of COVID-19 patients in area hospitals rise, Brooke Army Medical Center has made the decision to transfer new pediatric patients needing inpatient care to local children's hospitals.

In order to move some of these patients, the 59th Medical Wing's Pediatric Care Air Transport Team brings the patient inside a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft that has an Intensive Care Unit onboard. Although this unit is used for more extreme and distanced moves, other units on the ground can also be utilized for shorter trips.

“We are taking this additional precautionary measure to ensure our healthcare professionals are poised to support an increased need for COVID-19 care for our service members and families,” Air Force Col. Patrick Osborn, San Antonio Military Health System Surgeon-in-Chief and BAMC’s Deputy Commander for Surgical Services said in a statement.

According to the BAMC press release, pediatric patients will still be evaluated in the BAMC Emergency Department. If an inpatient admission is required, the patient will be transferred to a community hospital.

“We have coordinated with all of the major health systems in town to ensure a smooth transfer and continuity of care for our pediatric patients needing inpatient services,” Osborn said.

Osborn also says that some BAMC pediatric specialists and surgeons train in the local children’s hospitals through a resource sharing agreement, which has further reinforced these relationships and ability to quickly implement changes.

“We took a similar posture during the summer COVID surge,” Osborn added. “This experience helps to drive our decisions as we work to ensure we are able to fully support our service members, military families and community trauma patients.”

BAMC is currently delaying many non-urgent, elective surgical cases, particularly those requiring an overnight stay.

“We have had to adopt this posture twice since the pandemic started, and we have shown the agility to quickly reopen elective surgical access once conditions warrant,” Osborn said in the statement.

BAMC will continue to assess conditions daily and adjust as needed. “We greatly appreciate everyone’s patience and support as we work to ensure everyone’s safety,” Osborn said.

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