Critical Care Transport Service Serves MoreThan 5,000 Patients In Maryland Each Year
University of Maryland ExpressCare, an innovative referral and transport service that enables community physicians throughout Maryland to transfer critically ill patients to the University of Maryland Medical Center for specialized care, is celebrating its 10th anniversary with an open house on June 6.
Maryland ExpressCare is available to community doctors and their patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. With one quick telephone call, doctors can consult with University of Maryland specialists and, if necessary, arrange to have their patients transported to the medical center in ground and air ambulances equipped with state-of-the-art technology and specially trained critical care staff. The service cares for patients of all ages, from infants to the elderly.
Initially, University of Maryland Medical Center officials expected ExpressCare to transport about 1,300 to 1,400 patients a year, but the number has grown to more than 5,000 patients.
"We wanted to make the process as simple as possible," says Brian J. Browne, M.D., the head of emergency medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center and a professor of surgery and medicine at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
"With Maryland ExpressCare, a physician anywhere in the state can call us and speak with an attending physician for advice or to transfer a patient who needs more advanced care than is available in the community. This service benefits doctors and patients throughout Maryland."
Before ExpressCare was started in May 1993, transferring patients was no easy task for community physicians, who often did not know who to contact at the large medical center, Dr. Browne says.
Robert A. Barish, M.D., professor of surgery and associate dean for Clinical Affairs at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, who as head of emergency medicine in 1993 was instrumental in establishing ExpressCare, says that the service met a growing demand within the state.
"We developed the service so that community physicians could easily communicate with attending physicians at the University of Maryland Medical Center and quickly transfer patients needing specialized care," he says.
When the program first started, physicians at the medical center visited hospitals throughout the state to raise awareness of the new service. "We went out to every hospital in the region to meet with the emergency medicine physicians and explain the program," recalls Michael A. Rolnick, M.D., an emergency department physician at the medical center and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
He says senior physicians at the medical center also had to be educated about the program, and many components had to be put into place before the first patient was transported in August 1993. The staff was trained to answer calls, dispatch services and to provide appropriate clinical care during transport. Special communication and medical equipment was also purchased.
The transfer center coordinators are emergency medical technicians (EMT) or paramedics. The clinical staff includes critical care nurses, paramedics trained in critical care and emergency vehicle operators (EMT or cardiac rescue technicians.)
The majority of the patients transported by ExpressCare need cardiac care, neurocare, trauma care, high-risk obstetrics or pediatric care.
The program was expanded to include Maryland ExpressCare for Kids -- the first specialized pediatric critical care transport service in the region. Alice D. Ackerman, M.D., the director of pediatric intensive care medicine at the University of Maryland Medical Center and an associate professor of pediatrics and anesthesiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, serves as medical director.
In 1998, the ExpressCare program also established a branch at a hospital in Easton to better serve patients on Maryland's Eastern Shore.
"University of Maryland ExpressCare has experienced tremendous growth and change during the past 10 years. With growth and change comes challenge and opportunity," says Wade R. Gaasch, M.D., the medical director of University of Maryland ExpressCare. "ExpressCare has effectively met these challenges and continually strives to provide excellence in communications, patient care and transport services," says Dr. Gaasch, who is an emergency department physician at the medical center and an assistant professor of surgery at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
For patient inquiries, call 1-800-492-5538 or click here to make an appointment.