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CHEO’s expanded neonatal transport team will safely move fragile newborns to intensive care, thanks to funding from the Government of Ontario
Ottawa, December 9, 2013 — An infusion of funding to transport newborns from across Northeastern, Southeastern and Eastern Ontario by CHEO’s neonatal transport team was announced today by Ottawa South MPP John Fraser.

Eight-week-old Leo Walters and his parents Jordanna and David Walters of Ottawa were on hand to celebrate the news that will ensure more newborns get the resuscitation and care that saved his life.

The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care is contributing $3.1 million over two years to make the first days of life safer for premature and ill newborns across Eastern, Southeastern and Northeastern Ontario. CHEO’s neonatal transport team will now be more available to respond to life-threatening emergencies in places such as Kingston, Belleville, Brockville, North Bay, Sudbury, and Moose Factory.

The Neonatal Transport Team based at CHEO will serve a region of almost 440,000 km2, with a population of 2,255,000, and annual births of approximately 23,000. The new funding will increase the number of babies transported by CHEO's team from 360 per year to an estimated 425 next year, and extend the support of CHEO’s neonatal transport team to more remote communities. This number will grow in coming years given the region’s growing child and youth population. The team will transport babies to the most appropriate hospital for the level of care they require, including CHEO, Kingston General Hospital and The Ottawa Hospital.

“Moms and critically ill newborn babies all across Eastern Ontario will now get the best emergency care they need, faster,” said John Fraser, MPP, Ottawa South. “This investment means more families will get life-saving treatment on their way to CHEO’s state-of-the-art neonatal care facilities. I want to thank everyone who is making this lifesaving initiative possible."

“This investment in the health of our most vulnerable newborns will improve access to neonatal care in Ontario,” said Alex Munter, President and CEO of CHEO. “CHEO’s care changes young lives in our region and beyond. Nowhere is that more evident than on the ambulances and helicopters that carry our teams of dedicated professionals who give these infants the best possible start in life, improving their lifelong health and reducing long-term costs for the health care system.”

The neonatal transport team includes registered nurses, respiratory therapists, an advanced practice nurse and a neonatalogist who are now available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to transport severely ill babies to specialized neonatal intensive care. In the past, CHEO’s team was not always available to respond to all calls they received. This meant newborns in community hospitals would either have to wait longer for the CHEO team or be transported by one of the other provincial teams from Toronto, Hamilton or London, if available.

For the next two years, this announcement means our region will have dedicated funding for a complete neonatal transport team, in alignment with the other three fully funded teams serving various regions of Ontario. The team will also be able to support fellow transport teams across the province when they require back-up assistance.

The demand for a neonatal transport team is already high and will only continue to grow rapidly. There are approximately 14,000 live births annually in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec alone, and CHEO’s facilities also provide neonatal care for the Baffin Island region of Nunavut. In the Ottawa Champlain region alone, births are expected to grow by 19.5% by the year 2031.

The team will serve communities covered by the Champlain, South East and North East Local Health Integration Networks, its reach extending from Kingston and Belleville to the James Bay and Hudson Bay coast.

CHEO is a leader in newborn health and care for severely ill newborns. CHEO administers the Champlain Maternal Newborn Regional Program, which improves the health of mothers and newborns; BORN Ontario, which collects and interprets critical data about pregnancy, birth and childhood; the Regional Genetics Program, which offers prenatal genetic screening; and Newborn Screening Ontario, which screens every baby born in Ontario for early detection of treatable diseases.

CHEO’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) was renovated in 2009 and is equipped with 21 bassinets for babies with the most complex medical needs. These newborns require surgical procedures and/or investigation by several specialists, or have significant congenital heart disease. Early intervention can prevent complications such as developmental delay, motor and vision impairments, respiratory and neurological deficits, as well as death.

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For further information, please contact:

Eva Schacherl
Communications Manager and Strategist
Cell: 613-769-5553  

Jeff LeBlanc
Executive Assistant to John Fraser
(613) 736-9573
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