Something New Takes Flight at Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital


Just days before Hurricane Harvey made landfall on the Gulf Coast, a group of excited Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center employees looked to the sky on the John S. Dunn Helistop as a blur of green zoomed through the air. The iconic red Memorial Hermann Life Flight® helicopters take off and land multiple times daily on the helipad that sits on the roof of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, but the helicopter that was currently coming in for a landing was green.

The crowd applauded as the helicopter touched down, the Children’s Memorial Hermann logo shining bright on its side. The green aircraft was immediately joining the Life Flight fleet, serving alongside the iconic red Life Flight helicopters.

“Memorial Hermann Life Flight was the first hospital-based air ambulance service in the state and has been flying pediatric patients for the past 41 years,” said Susie Distefano, SVP and CEO of Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital. “Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital, in partnership with Memorial Hermann Life Flight, was the first pediatric hospital in the community to provide hospital-based ground and air ambulance transportation for critically ill newborns, children and high-risk obstetric patients. The aircraft redesign puts a fresh face on our commitment to children and the Houston community as a whole.”

Hospital employees looked on as Susie introduced the helicopter, eagerly awaiting their opportunity to see it up close.

Before that could happen, Susie was joined by Brian Dean, SVP and CEO of Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center and Regional President-Central Region for Memorial Hermann Health System, Tom Flanagan, Vice President of the Trauma Service Line for Memorial Hermann Health System and Chief Operating Officer at Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, and members of the Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital’s Children’s Transport team for a ribbon cutting.

In the first week after the ribbon cutting, the green Life Flight helicopter flew 29 patients, six of which were pediatric patients.

“Children’s Memorial Hermann Hospital recently celebrated its 30th anniversary,” said Tom Flanagan. “The new look of this aircraft serves as a symbol of our devotion to continue providing compassionate, high-quality care to women and children in their greatest times of need.”

In addition to the helicopter’s makeover, the Children’s Transport Team at Children’s Memorial Hermann will be sporting new uniforms, which are black with bright green stripes that accent the sides of the jumpsuit and match the new helicopter.

For pediatric patients needing critical care, increasing the chance for survival and recovery means getting the best care as quickly as possible. Led by pediatric and neonatal intensive care physicians, the Children’s Transport Team provides specialized emergency pediatric and neonatal transport services for patients from infants and premature babies, including those born as early as 23 weeks’ gestation and weighing as little as one pound, to adolescents – around the clock, 365 days a year.

Our transport capabilities ensure that pediatric patients admitted to local, regional, national and international hospitals can be quickly transferred to a hospital within the Memorial Hermann Health System. Depending on the location and severity of the child’s medical condition, the transport team will use:

  • A ground ambulance service for cases up to 300 miles away
  • Memorial Hermann Life Flight for cases up to 150 miles away
  • Fixed-wing air transport worldwide

Memorial Hermann is the only Houston-based health system that offers this innovative service to transport pediatric patients as well as adult patients and care for them at one facility, helping to ensure all patients receive the best care from specialized physicians as soon as possible.

Memorial Hermann Red Duke Trauma Institute is the only certified Level I trauma center in the Texas Medical Center able to admit and care for patients of all ages under one roof. This provides a unique advantage for families, especially in trauma situations when multiple family members are admitted to the Emergency Center, as we are equipped to care for the entire family unit in one place.

Life Flight was founded in 1976 by James “Red” Duke, M.D., and the service operates around the clock – weather permitting – 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. Crews perform more than 3,000 missions each year, making the John S. Dunn Helistop one of the busiest helipads in the world. Since its inaugural flight, Memorial Hermann Life Flight has flown more than 140,000 missions.

Not only will the green helicopter be flying missions alongside the other Life Flight helicopters, but it will also continue to serve the four pediatric emergency room locations across the system. To learn more about Children’s Memorial Hermann pediatric emergency room locations, click here.


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