Qatar’s Minister of Public Health H.E. Abdulla bin Khalid Al Qahtani, today officially inaugurated the Qatar Neonatal Transport Program at Women’s Hospital in Doha.
Accompanying the Health Minister was Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) Managing Director Dr. Hanan Al Kuwari PhD.
The Qatar Neonatal Transport Program is a nationwide emergency transportation service provided by Women’s Hospital and the HMC Ambulance Service to bring high-risk neonates to Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) for specialist tertiary treatment.
All public and private hospitals across Qatar that have babies born in their facilities who are deemed at-risk can utilize this emergency service, according to Al Kuwari.
“The Women’s Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit is the only tertiary care facility in the country catering to newborns. The Qatar Neonatal Transport Program offers all hospitals with birthing units a crucial time-saving service to bring any at-risk babies to the specialist treatment available at Women’s Hospital as quickly as possible,” said Al Kuwari.
The NICU at Women’s Hospital had recently been expanded as part of HMC’s facilities master plan, and included 107 cots for newborns, as well as four mother and baby rooms and a number of quiet rooms and support areas, added Al Kuwari.
His Excellency was provided with a hands-on demonstration of the emergency transportation equipment used to carry the at-risk newborns.
During a subsequent press briefing held at Bayt Al Dhiyafah in Hamad bin Khalifa Medical City, Mr Ali Al Khater, Executive Director of Corporate Communications, addressed the media on behalf of Dr Hanan Al Kuwari. Following Mr Al Khater, Women’s Hospital Medical Director Dr. Hilal Al Rifai explained that the emergency transport service has been operating as a pilot program for the past 12 months prior to being fully commissioned.
“The pilot program has successfully seen a reduction in the mortality rate of newborns transported to the hospital, compared with prior to its introduction, so it was imperative that this service should be offered on a permanent basis,” said Dr. Al Rifai.
Dr. Al Rifai anticipated that over 100 high-risk newborns will be transported to the specialist tertiary facilities at Women’s Hospital every year under the program. The newborns could have congenital or surgical anomalies, respiratory distress or require emergency invasive surgery, he added.
Women’s Hospital Neonatologist and Qatar Neonatal Transport Program Director Dr. Fouad Abounahia said the program involved having a fully trained team on call 24 hours a day, with state-of-the-art equipment stationed at the NICU ready to be deployed within 20 minutes.
“Once we receive a call from the referring hospital, the transport team is able to mobilize very quickly,” Dr. Abounahia said.
“We have an on-call transport team of three: a physician, respiratory therapist and a nurse, at any one time, who along with the emergency equipment and an ICU ambulance team, head to the hospital facility to retrieve the at-risk child or children in the case of multiple pregnancies,” Dr. Abounahia added.
A total of seven ICU appliances are currently available for a variety of emergency transport cases, including for neonates, said Dr. Abounahia, while the Women’s Hospital NICU has four sets of transport equipment on standby. Additional ICU ambulances and six further sets of transport equipment are on order to be delivered in February 2016.