Providence Saint Joseph Nurses to Ride Aboard New Ambulance for Stroke Patients

May 21, 2012

Providence Saint Joseph Nurses to Ride Aboard New Ambulance for Stroke Patients

BURBANK (May 21, 2012) -- Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center has its new critical care ambulance on the road to transport patients from community hospital emergency departments throughout the region to the hospital’s elite team of cardiac and neurology specialists.

One of five nurses specially trained in transporting patients by ground or air will ride the new ambulance – or in some cases travel by helicopter as the program expands – to pick up stroke and heart patients at hospitals that do not have the necessary specialties.

“People don’t realize that hospitals have different levels of expertise, and this program provides access to time sensitive interventions regardless of where patients are initially taken for treatment in our community,” said Debbie Buffham, R.N., supervisor of the new Critical Care Transport Team.

Patients can lose precious minutes, and even hours, as hospital staffs make phone calls to coordinate critical transports to those medical centers with certified cardiac and stroke programs. Unlike the five Providence medical centers in Southern California, many community hospitals do not have the specialized services to best treat stroke and some cardiac patients. Several have contracted with Providence Saint Joseph to transport and treat patients who arrive in their emergency departments.

“This is the first of its kind throughout the entire valley,” said Daniel Eisenberg, M.D., chief of cardiology at Providence Saint Joseph. “It allows patients to be transferred from urgent care centers or community hospitals that do not have the facilities to treat stroke and very critical heart conditions. We’re there within moments, any time of day or night and treatment begins on the way to our hospital.”

The critical care transport program was supported by a grant from the UniHealth Foundation, a nonprofit philanthropic organization whose mission is to support and facilitate activities that significantly improve the health and well-being of individuals and communities within its service area. The grant helped cover the costs of training program supervisor Buffham and the nurses who will ride in the ambulance.

It was outfitted by Bowers Emergency Services, which contracts with Providence Health & Services, Southern California, for ambulance service. This is the second Bowers ambulance dedicated for a specialty for Providence. A pediatric ambulance serves Providence Tarzana Medical Center, transporting children and infants in kid-friendly style, and with room for a parent and physician to ride along.

Having a nurse aboard the new critical care ambulance raises the level of care for a patient in transit and allows for much broader access to equipment and medications during critical minutes.