Miracle Monday: How Golisano Children’s Hospital keeps kids calm in ambulances

Reporter: Amanda Hall Writer: Matias Abril
Published: Updated:

The transport team at Golisano Children’s Hospital is finding ways to make the ride to the ER less intimidating for young patients, giving teddy bears to every child who rides in an ambulance. 

Niki Shimko, the critical care transport team manager for Lee Health in Fort Myers, leads the team. In her 23 years with Lee Health, Shimko has cared for the youngest and sickest patients, giving out a lot of bears along the way. 

“There was a 2-month-old that we went and picked up from an outside facility who was very sick, who had an intestine blockage and really needed quick interventions,” Shimko said. “And the team basically brought the ICU to that patient.” 

The team’s ultimate test came during Hurricane Ian when the hospital had to evacuate 81 child patients, including 62 neonatal babies, in under 36 hours. Some of these babies weighed less than a pound. 

“We had to wait for the weather to pass before we could get the helicopters in the air,” Shimko said. “And then once they were here, we were landing potentially four helicopters at a time. There were over 70 helicopters landed in a 24-hour period.” 

Last year, the hospital’s four ambulances covered close to 100,000 miles. Niki and the team that runs these hospitals on wheels hopes to help more kids in the community. The team received $300,000 worth of donations from Costco shoppers last year, which paid for a brand-new ambulance. This year, Shimko hopes to surpass that goal. 

During May, Costco is allowing shoppers to round up their purchases at the register to pay for more equipment and to make more miracles happen. 

If you have any suggestions or ideas for a Miracle Monday piece, email Amanda Hall at Amanda.Hall@winknews.com

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