Network of emergency providers from Caribou to Millinocket to Bangor help premature infant

Jenna and Matthew Lombard live in rural northern Maine, surrounded by farm fields, friends and family in the small town of Easton. In June 2020 the young couple was happily looking forward to the arrival of their first child later in the summer. But what should’ve been a happy, memorable event was quickly filled with anxiety and worry when Jenna’s water broke 9 weeks early.

The Lombards raced to Cary Medical Center in Caribou where they had planned to deliver their baby. Concerned about the precarious condition of a tiny premature infant, the clinical team at Cary knew Jenna needed to deliver her baby at Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor where neonatal specialists could provide needed care.

A large and complex network of emergency medical providers is spread across Maine, reaching into every community where providers stand ready to take care of friends and neighbors in distress. Made up of professionals and volunteers alike, the success of the system is rooted in teamwork. On that June afternoon, all of the ambulance teams in Caribou were busy caring for other patients, so Cary called colleagues at Presque Isle Fire Department who were available to respond immediately. With Jenna and her nurse from Cary settled in the back, the ambulance team headed south. They made it about 90 minutes into the 3-hour trip, when it became clear that Baby Lombard would arrive long before they made it to Bangor. 

A new plan was formed, once again relying on colleagues in the statewide system. They would take Jenna to the nearest hospital where she could deliver in an emergency room. At the same time, LifeFlight was requested to meet them there. With lights and sirens on, the ambulance headed to Millinocket Regional Hospital. An emergency team was ready and Baby Lincoln was born shortly after Jenna was rolled into the hospital.

Eight minutes later the LifeFlight crew arrived including a nurse from EMMC’s neonatal intensive care unit and an isolette, a mobile incubator equipped with specialized medical equipment. Just like that, critical NICU resources typically only available at a major medical center were at Lincoln’s bedside in Millinocket. The flight team assessed Lincoln and moved him into the isolette where his vital signs could be closely monitored and regulated. They administered oxygen using a special ventilator to assist his underdeveloped lungs and placed a small tube down his throat and into his stomach to relieve any air pressure compromising his lungs.

While Jenna watched from the ground, the helicopter lifted off with her tiny firstborn safely on board. After a quick 23-minute flight, the helicopter delivered little Lincoln to the NICU team at Northern Light EMMC. He spent four weeks receiving specialized neonatal care before his anxious and grateful parents were able to take him home to Easton. There he continued to thrive and today you’d never know the harrowing circumstances surrounding his early birth.