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UK Hospital’s Air Medical Service to Continue

By Mary Margaret Colliver


UK Hospital's Air Medical Service helicopter

Effective Oct. 1, UK Air Medical Service will operate one helicopter based at UK Hospital, discontinuing its second helicopter based at the airports in Jackson and Prestonsburg, Ky. The operational change will stabilize the service’s budget and allow the program to continue to provide optimal patient care.

 

Sept. 19 , 2002 (Lexington, Ky.) -- University of Kentucky Hospital officials announced today that the hospital will continue to provide emergency patient transports through its Air Medical Service.

Following a review of the service and its budgetary considerations, UK officials determined that some operational changes needed to be instituted. Effective Oct. 1, UK Air Medical Service will operate one helicopter based at UK Hospital, discontinuing its second helicopter based at the airports in Jackson and Prestonsburg, Ky. The operational change will stabilize the service’s budget and allow the program to continue to provide optimal patient care.

UK Hospital’s Air Medical Service employs 30 flight nurses and paramedics. No staff positions will be eliminated.

“We are pleased that the University of Kentucky Hospital has found a way to continue its emergency helicopter service and assist in addressing the health care needs of Eastern, Southeastern and Central Kentuckians,” said Joe Claypool, UK Hospital director. “This operational change returns UK Hospital to its original one-helicopter service, providing the highest quality patient care in a safe and fiscally responsible manner.”

The UK Air Medical Service was established in 1987 with a helicopter, based in Lexington, which provided 24-hour service, seven days a week. A second helicopter was added in 1998 to provide 12-hour daily service, seven days a week from a remote site in Jackson, Ky.

UK’s service will continue to collaborate with other transport service providers in the region to ensure that appropriate transport resources remain available to transport patients to UK Hospital. For several years, UK has occasionally called on other services to assist in emergencies. In turn, other transport services in the region have called on UK to assist with patient transports. This type of reciprocity allows all of the regional transport services to provide the quick response needed for emergency situations.

"Our program is committed to continuing the level of service provided to our referral community for the past 15 years,” said Colleen Swartz, director of UK Hospital’s emergency and trauma services. “We feel confident we can continue to meet the needs of critically ill and injured patients in the transport environment. We will continue the provision of resources only available through a Level 1 Trauma Center based within an academic medical center. These unique resources include air and ground transport teams with specialty training to care for all ages, an on-site communications center, and commitment to community and professional education."

Last year UK Air Medical Service transported 1,400 patients. Based on historical data, one helicopter transports approximately 1,100 to 1,200 patients per year.

About 60 percent of the helicopter missions involve trauma patients; 15 percent are for critically ill children, including infants transported to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; 15 percent are for cardiac patients; and the remainder of the transports are for high risk obstetrics patients, as well as medical/surgical emergencies. Seventy percent of UK’s missions involve transporting patients between medical facilities; the other 30 percent are scene flights.

Besides the 30 flight nurses and paramedics, support for UK’s Air Medical Service comes from the neonatal and pediatric ground transport service. It employs 13 nurses and 15 emergency medical technicians (EMTs) serving as communications technicians and drivers.

UK Hospital leases its helicopters and the services of pilots and mechanics from Petroleum Helicopters Incorporated (PHI). With the operational changes expected savings will be approximately $1 million dollars annually.

UK Hospital offers the only Level 1 Trauma Center and Children’s Hospital with pediatric and neonatal critical care services serving Central, Eastern and Southeastern Kentucky.


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