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Stock photo of an ecmo machine

UW Medicine ECMO Transport Team now active in Washington

May 22, 2024
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A new life-saving resource is now available to providers and patients in Washington through the UW Medicine ECMO program. The recently launched ECMO Transport Team allows the medical team to go to any hospital, put patients on ECMO, and transport them back to a UW Medicine hospital. 

For Dr. Jenelle Badulak, a member of the ECMO Team and Assistant Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine, offering this type of subspecialized care to any hospital in the region is an exciting development.

"Now, when we get a call for a really sick patient in respiratory failure, who is too sick to transport, we can bring ECMO to the patient, stabilize them, and safely transport them back to one of our ECMO hospitals," said Badulak. "Before the launch of this program, we had to either transport the patient who is quite unstable or call another ECMO center capable of cannulating the patient off-site instead of us. "

The ECMO Transport Team officially launched in April 2024 and shortly after, they performed their first off-site cannulation. The team responded to a call for a patient with severe respiratory failure who was too unstable to be transported from Valley Medical Center. Once the patient was on ECMO, they were successfully transported to Harborview Medical Center.

Badulak was a part of the team that responded and was grateful to see the years of hard work and planning come to life at the bedside.

ECMO team
The UW Medicine ECMO Team

"Everything went off without a hitch and our first patient did well and came off ECMO. Now I feel we can offer this extra level of support to all patients in our state. I am excited to expand and offer this service to our entire Pacific Northwest region within the year," said Badulak.

The ECMO transport team consists of physicians with training in intensive care along with an ECMO specialist who is either a nurse or respiratory therapist. Additionally, ECMO partners with Airlift Northwest to transport patients.

"Between Harborview and UW Medical Center, we offer pretty much anything you could need in medical care," said Badulak. "Essentially, we are a one-stop-shop, so I feel good about bringing a patient here, knowing we won't need to transfer them anywhere else to get what they need."

To refer a patient for possible ECMO support:
Call the Transfer Center 24 hours a day at 1-800-520-7575 and say you would like to refer a patient for ECMO.


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