Up In the Air…It’s a bird…It’s a butterfly…It’s Monarch I

As you’re reading this post (if you’re reading this on January 18th) something new and exciting is coming to the skies of Columbus, Ohio.  Monarch I is on its way, flying here from Shreveport, Louisiana.  No, I’m not referring to the butterfly; I’m referring to Nationwide Children’s new medical helicopter. The helicopter, an EC145 to be exact, completed construction and testing this week in Shreveport.  So how do you get a helicopter to its new home?  You fly it there of course! That’s more than 933 miles with plenty of time for stops, safety checks and re-fueling.

Monarch I will be the latest edition to our nationally-recognized Transport team.  We have offered ground transport to critically ill newborns and children for years.  We have also partnered with MedFlight on helicopter and jet aircraft transports.  We will continue this great partnership, adding Monarch I into the mix exclusively for pediatric and neonatal transports.  In total, our transport team cares for 1,800 patients each year – picking up children from across the state and across the nation.  A majority of these patients are critically ill and premature newborns.  Every second counts when a baby is born extremely premature or has a life-threatening condition. Helicopters can travel at twice the speed of ground transport so the time to our neonatal intensive care unit is cut in half.

This new helicopter will be one-of-a-kind in Ohio.  Our team had the opportunity to customize all the details exclusively for pediatric patients and optimal safety.  Standing more than 11 feet tall and 42 feet long, Monarch I is among the largest of its kind – which will allow us to load an isolette along with state-of-the-art therapies including High Frequency Ventilation and nitrous oxide therapy (both can be critical for very fragile newborns).  The size of the helicopter’s cabin allows crew to access the baby or child as needed and when appropriate, a parent can fly along with their child.

Speaking of customizing, Monarch I lives up to its name with beautiful butterflies featured on the exterior.  The butterflies,  from our logo, are all indigenous to Ohio and were hand-painted by an artist during the construction process.  Our helicopter’s name speaks to the tenacious and beautiful Monarch butterfly which can travel thousands of miles each year during migration.  A fit name for this new lifesaver.

The helicopter should arrive here in Columbus late this afternoon and we will begin several weeks of crew training and safety flights.  We anticipate our first patient transport in early February.  As excited as I am to see the new helicopter it’s sobering to think of its purpose.  So if you hear a helicopter  – look up, if you see butterflies know it’s Monarch I and send a good thought for the child who is traveling inside.

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Donna Teach
Donna Teach is Chief Marketing & Communication Officer at Nationwide Children's. Her job is to help the hospital feel "connected" – Connected to each other, connected to our patients and their families, referring physicians, the community and the world.

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