Nicholas Petz and Scott Buckert, members of the transport team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, inspected the new MICU ambulances in St. Louis.
Nicholas Petz and Scott Buckert, members of the transport team at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital, inspected the new MICU ambulances in St. Louis.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

New mobile intensive care units at Cardinal Glennon boost care

Donors fund ambulances for SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital transport team

Thanks to generous donations, the SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital transport team has five new ambulances known as MICUs — mobile intensive care units.

Transport team members are highly skilled professionals who provide essential medical care while children and babies are in transit from referring centers. Previously they relied on ambulances and drivers through contracted partners.

Michelle Romano, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer who is a parishioner of Queen of All Saints in Oakville, said the MICUs aid the mission of the hospital — "through our exceptional health care services, we reveal the healing presence of God." A member of the pastoral team blessed the units, referring to them as “sacred vessels,” to ensure God is walking with those who care for the patients.

Melanie Biver of St. Nicholas Parish in O’Fallon, Ill., a respiratory therapist with the transport team, noted that she invites families to pray prior to transporting their child. Another team member, Jessica Cherepkai, a flight nurse and member of Holy Angels Parish in Wood River, Ill., said prayer helps with the fear and anxiety families my experience. “It brings them peace, hope and strength to get through what is probably the most trying times as a parent,” she said, adding that she relies on the help of God to take care of children.

Critical care paramedic Scott Buckert explained features of SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital’s new ambulance to transport nurse Dana Rolland.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston
Having their own ambulances and drivers will improve response times. “We’ll still maintain the relationship with the companies that provide our ambulances,” said Kelley Kostich, administrative director of nursing operations at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. “They’re a great resource and have served our needs well. This will provide that next level of excellent care to our community.”

Team members complete more than 1,600 annual transports by ground and air each year.

The ambulances allow the team to safely transport sick children who need assisted ventilation, breathing tube support and everything in between.

The equipment is needed, for example, in hospital-to-hospital transports using mobile Isolates, a type of incubator for premature or newborn infants with controlled temperature, humidity and oxygen levels, as well as cardiac monitors, IV pumps and other equipment. They cover an area north to Quincy, Ill., south to Poplar Bluff, Mo., west to Joplin, Mo., and east to Mount Vernon, Ill. Teams are based at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon in St. Louis, in Hannibal, Mo., and Cape Girardeau, Mo.

About 50 highly skilled professionals — who previously worked extensively in emergency medicine — provide essential medical care while children and babies are in transit. The team includes paramedics, registered nurses and respiratory therapists who have advanced training in the stabilization, treatment and transport of babies and children.

Kostich praised the transport team members. “Their commitment to the mission and the community is second to none. They’re so resilient. I’ve seen them when they’ve had a barrier or obstacle and they all pull together and figure out whatever it takes to provide excellent patient care. They are the ones out there literally saving kids’ lives. It’s intense, and they are amazing at what they do,” she said.

SSM Health Cardinal Glennon’s mission rings true for the transport team, Kostich said. “The team inspires me every day. They do whatever it takes to take care of the kids, and it’s a privilege to serve them in leadership. Being able to provide them with the resources they need is why I come to work.”

She praised the generosity and support from the community to provide the new ambulances. “It means the world to us. Knowing that the team is safe and going out with safe equipment is comforting to me,” she said.

To help

The SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation assists SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital through program enhancements, facility updates, charity care and more. Donors help fund general and program-specific improvements, purchase state-of-the-art equipment, and assist the hospital with launching new programs.

To help, visit www.glennon.org/how-to-help or call (314) 577-5605.

Children’s book benefits MICUs

'I Miss You' by Toni Pagano
A new children’s activity and coloring book will benefit fundraising efforts for Cardinal Glennon’s new mobile intensive care units (MICUs).

“I Miss You” was written by Toni Pagano and illustrated by Michael Anderson. Pagano developed the book in honor of her three grandchildren, including her infant grandson who was born six weeks prematurely and transported by ambulance to the NICU at SSM Health Cardinal Glennon Children’s Hospital. The book also highlights the grandparent-grandchild relationship in the midst of the COVID-19 health pandemic.

Books may be purchased online at bit.ly/3kechOl. Donations also may be made through www.glennon.org/how-to-help/ (click on “donate online” and type MICU-PAGANO in the comment section); or by check to Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, attention Allyson Kinnevan, 3800 Park Ave., St. Louis, MO 63110. Please include MICU-PAGANO in the memo.

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