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Resilient Beginnings: Safeguarding Neonatal Pediatric Patients After the Storm









Nichole Shimko, MSN, CCRN, CPN, C-NPT

Transport Team Manager, Golisano Children's Hospitals



Niki Shimko has been a leader of the pediatric neonatal transport team for over 10 years and was responsible for expanding the care provided to include high-risk maternal transports. Niki has over 23 years of professional nursing experience.   She received her BSN from Syracuse University and MSN from Walden University.  Niki’s responsibilities included overseeing all aspects of the team development: administration, research, clinical, education, performance improvement, and ongoing evaluation.   She was instrumental in spearheading the evacuation of Golisano Children’s Hospital post-Hurricane Ian. 

Niki is the current President of the Florida Neonatal Pediatric Transport Network Association and a board member of the Florida Association of Critical Care Transport Specialists.  She is also a Florida EMS for Children advisory council committee member.  She has presented on topics that include the development of the maternal transport team, pediatric special needs, and hurricane evacuation.

About This Session

Since the start of the 21st century to 2022, Florida has been impacted by 79 tropical and subtropical cyclones.  On September 28, 2022, Southwest Florida sustained a direct hit from Hurricane Ian.  Hurricane Ian was to date, the most deadly hurricane to impact Florida in this time frame. Due to the loss of water pressure, loss of the domestic water plumbing function, loss of air conditioning, and loss of fire suppression sprinkler systems government agencies mandated the evacuation of three local hospitals.  One of the hospitals, Golisano Children’s Hospital, was included in the evacuation. Evacuating critically ill neonates provide added vulnerabilities due to their complexity and can be difficult to safely and efficiently evacuate in a disaster.    In 2017, the Florida Neonatal and Pediatric Transport Network Association, being experts in the state for the safe transport of neonates, developed a disaster response plan.    No one imagined using the disaster response plan to the magnitude we did on September 29, 2022.  Golisano Children’s Hospital evacuated a total of 81 patients to 15 out-of-county healthcare facilities throughout the state in a 36-hour period.  The neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) census on September 29 was 68, which decreased to zero.  Seven babies were discharged to their parents and 61 babies were evacuated, one neonate was delivered in the middle of evacuation, stabilized, and transported. Of the 62 evacuated babies, 21 were categorized as level 3/ critical care and the others were intensive care level 2 patients.  The other patients included eight from the pediatric intensive care unit, six from the pediatric medical unit, three from the pediatric oncology unit, and two from the pediatric emergency department. There were no reported adverse events.

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