Disclosure :: Children’s Hospital New Orleans is a sponsor of New Orleans Mom. That said, we are extremely grateful for life saving and critical help they provide patients, both locally and across the state of Louisiana.
Some People Around Children’s Hospital New Orleans Hear Helicopter Noise
Yes, the neighbors around Children’s Hospital of New Orleans may hear helicopter noise. Not me. I hear a child’s life on the line. I hear a baby’s mother crying out of fear. I hear transport team heroes. I hear hope. I hear relief. I hear my own prayers joined by the dozens of other people who take a moment to pray for the child being transported. One thing I never hear is noise.
Norah was born just a few days before Christmas 2016. She was a tiny 3lbs 12oz and not breathing on her own. It was apparent soon after birth that Norah needed to be transported to Children’s Hospital. Norah was born with a critical heart defect and 3 others. CHNOLA was the best chance she had with their level IV NICU, cardiac ICU team, ECMO program and highly acclaimed cardiothoracic surgeons. Abby, their helicopter, was on her way to save my baby. Our first time meeting the transport team was also my first time touching my infant. Saying hello and goodbye for the first time was nearly impossible. I remember her life hanging by a thread, and I remember my sobs as the heroes with the helicopter left with my precious Norah. The transport time from Slidell to Children’s by helicopter is half of the time by ambulance, 17 minutes to be exact. When your child is fighting for their life, every MOMENT counts.
The moments turned into seconds, then the days into weeks, and then the months into years. Norah was life flighted to Children’s hospital two more times. The helicopter became a beacon of hope for our family, a source of relief during the worst moments of our lives. Abby means that treatment is within reach when my baby cannot breathe or is nearing shock. When Norah is in the helicopter I know that she will be safely delivered into the hands of the best children’s trauma team within a few minutes of leaving my sight.
The last time Norah needed critical helicopter transport was a little less than a year ago. There are two wonderful hospitals in Slidell but unfortunately there are no pediatric intensive care units. One day last November Norah became sick quickly and without warning so we rushed her to the nearest ER. Her fever and heart rate spiked and it was clear she needed to be transported to CHNOLA. The original plan was ground transport. She continued to quickly deteriorate and lost all color and warmth in her extremities. Panic set in for me and I thought her heart was failing and I was losing her. The critical transport team was called and was there to load her up in no time. I walked down the halls by her side with the members of the transport team who know her by name. A quick kiss on her forehead and I let them take her. By the time I made it to the parking lot, she flew over my head and I prayed for their safety and that I would see my baby alive again. Over the years we have spent hundreds of nights at Children’s, and most nights I slept just a stones throw from the helipad.
In addition to savings lives, Abby also brings a little lagniappe to the hospital. I’ve seen excited children in the parking lot, watching Abby in action. I’ve seen others who haven’t stepped foot out of the hospital in weeks pressing their sweet faces on the window glass and the sparkle of joy in seeing a helicopter up close. Abby is a huge part of CHNOLA and CHNOLA is a big part of our family. We have been very blessed to be watch the transformation of the hospital over the past few years as they have grown to better serve our community. Abby is an integral part of CHNOLA’s mission to provide critical care for our children. Their focus is saving lives and accommodating us with the very best care. While we hope we won’t be needing it again, we are so proud of CHNOLA’s well–planned renovations to their trauma center and the movement of their helipad to save those precious minutes when they are needed most. We are talking about life or death of a child and safety of the transport team, and CHNOLA has thoughtfully optimized everything for the best outcomes possible. I never pictured myself calling a hospital my second home, and I also never truly had the appreciation for a critical transport team and life flight until my precious child was in need.
Norah is one of thousands of children who have been transported to CHNOLA by helicopter. Three times that helicopter landing has meant Norah having the chance of another day, another birthday, another Christmas, another moment in my arms. The helicopter and transport team saved my Norah’s life.
That’s not noise you are hearing when that helicopter is in flight, what you’re hearing is a child’s best chance at another tomorrow.
Chrissy Solice grew up in Slidell where she now resides with her two daughters, Lena and Norah. Since Norah was born in 2016, Chrissy has found a passion for advocacy for Norah’s special needs and complex medical care. Through the years, Chrissy and her family have spent months at CHNOLA and have become part of their family. With her daughters being her biggest blessing, she hopes to shed light on the way children with disabilities are viewed and accepted in the community.