CONTINENTAL UNVEILS INTENSIVE CARE FOR KIDS

By Liberty Dones

SAIPAN, CNMI (Saipan Tribune, Dec. 17) - Describing it as "the world's first," Continental Airlines and CNMI and Guam officials led by Guam Gov. Felix Camacho formally unveiled yesterday the two islands' newly acquired Infant Transport System that would be used to transport critically-ill infants.

The ITS, financed by the Guam Memorial Hospital and the CNMI Department of Public Health to the tune of over $250,000 using mostly Guam's Compact Impact funds, was presented to the public in a formal ceremony at the Continental Airline office yesterday on Guam.

"I'm just very grateful. This is an extraordinary show of regional cooperation. It's an expensive machine but when it comes to its value to our children, it's priceless," said Camacho in his remarks.

GMH manager John McMillan, who described the ITS as a "flying intensive care unit and life-saving machine," said the equipment has a built-in ventilator, suction, oxygen tank, and display monitor that would show an infant's temperature, heart rate, and overall condition while in transit.

Speaking on behalf of DPH Secretary James U. Hofschneider, spokesman John P. Douglas said the ITS is an essential equipment that will serve "the weakest and most fragile group in our community-the newborns."

Without the unit, he said both GMH and the DPH' Commonwealth Health Center would either resort to the use of military medical planes to transport sick babies, or the patient will be manually ventilated all the way to places such as Hawaii, the U.S. mainland, and other off-island locations.

Continental Airlines vice president for sales and marketing Wally Dias said the airline firm spent some $70,000 to modify its Boeing 767 to accommodate the equipment on the plane. The amount serves as the airline's share of the project.

Dias said the machine has a designated location in its B-767, the only aircraft allowed by federal regulations to carry the unit.

Janette Taylor, medical program coordinator of Continental, said the idea of manufacturing the specially designed equipment came from officials of GMH, CHC, and the airline.

The equipment was designed for Continental's B757 by Airborne Life Support president John Segars and Life Port Inc. vice president for product support Michael Swathhout.

The DPH and GMH joint agreement, which was signed in Dec. 2002, provides that both parties will proportionately share in the purchase and certification cost of the equipment. The CHC shoulders 31 percent of the amount. Its share of the cost was based on the CNMI population.

The CHC has not had a special transport system to transport critically ill infants due to lack of funding.

Yesterday's unveiling ceremony was attended by CNMI representatives Ben Borja of the CHC medical referral program, Douglas, and Guam CNMI liaison director Ron Taisakan; members of the Guam Legislature, GMH officials, and Continental Airlines top executives.

December 17, 2003

Saipan Tribune: www.saipantribune.com

 

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