Newborn Emergency Transport Service of WA to help move critically ill babies to new Perth Children’s Hospital


Natasha Zera with her seven-day-old son. Picture: Andrew Ritchie
Natasha Zera with her seven-day-old son. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

IT will be a delicate operation when critically ill newborns, whose tiny lives hang in the balance, are transported to the new Perth Children’s Hospital next month.

On the job will be staff from the Newborn Emergency Transport Service of WA (NETS WA), a specialist team of doctors and nurses solely dedicated to providing neonatal intensive care during transport.

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NETS WA clinical nurse consultant Kylie McDonald, of Rivervale, has been transporting sick and pre-term newborns for more than two decades and said the safety of the little patients was paramount during the move from Princess Margaret Hospital to the new children’s hospital.

“Our motto is providing the greatest care for the smallest patients anytime, anywhere,” she said.

“The babies will be transported in our specialist ambulances using a portable incubator, which is in fact an intensive care unit on wheels for babies.

“The specialist NETS ambulances require a very specific custom fit-out that includes space for two large transport cots, seating for both medical and nursing staff and room for additional specialist equipment and medications.

“It is also important for the team to have a full and clear view of the baby during transport in order to closely observe and attend to them without having to stop the vehicle.”

Arron Jones and Kylie McDonald. Picture: Andrew Ritchie

Ms McDonald said the neonatal unit at PMH could cater for up to 25 babies up to six weeks old.

“We won’t know how many babies we will need to transport to Perth Children’s Hospital until the day of the big move,” she said.

“We may have a full ward on the day, which means transporting quite a few babies with varying degrees of care required.

“Some of our babies will be very stable and some will require more complex care.

“But our staff are used to stabilising and transferring sick neonates every day and our aim is to move all the babies on June 10. Safety will be the number 1 priority.”

Ms McDonald said ahead of the move they would liaise with obstetrics staff at major hospitals and ramp down admissions for booked surgeries.

“It may be necessary to reschedule caesarean sections, but again the safety of mums and their baby will be paramount,” she said.

– NETS WA is a division of the Neonatal Intensive Care Units (NICU) of PMH and KEMH that specialises in the transport of sick or pre-term babies.
– Currently based in NICU at PMH, the service will move to the new Perth Children’s Hospital when it opens next month.
– It has operated in WA since the 1970s.

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