NETS returns babies to hospitals closer to home after they no longer
need intensive care. This service has operated for years at the John
Hunter Children's Hospital and the Canberra Hospital where nursing staff
from the neonatal intensive care units of those hospitals. NETS
coordinates the road and air transport of these patients, supported by
NETS' ambulances and Emergency Vehicle Operators (EVOs). For longer
missions, Air Ambulance Flight Nurses are used as well.
From 6 October 2020 an additional service was established in Sydney
serving the neonatal intensive care units of Sydney and the Level 4
special care units of 'greater' Sydney; from Wollongong to Gosford. The
Sydney service operates using non-emergency nurses specifically employed
for this purpose and with Level 2 life support systems designed for one
or two babies to be moved at once. NETS ambulances operated by EVOs
complete the team which take patients distances of up to about 3 hours
driving time away from the sending hospital.
Initially there are three teams each weekday and one on weekends. A
nurse scheduler coordinates the activity.
These non-emergency transfers are key to ensuring that care is as close
to home as possible. Premature babies can need up to 4 months in hospital
and most of that time doesn't need to be in a neonatal intensive care
unit. When a baby reaches a stage in care when the equivalent care can be
provided more locally, that is the time to aim for transfer.
Some of these babies may need to return to neonatal intensive care for
appointments such as for retinopathy review. The Service brings these
babies back to such appointments and then, in another booking NETS will
return them back to the local hospital.
Somewhat sicker babies, still needing respiratory support such as
Humidified High Flow or CPAP or other special treatments will continue to
be moved by NETS' medical retrieval teams from neonatal intensive
care to Level 4 special care units.