Hospital's AirLink program adds helicopter
February 1, 2013By Ken Little
New Hanover Regional Medical Center has expanded its AirLink program with the addition of a second helicopter for the air ambulance service.
The move was done to better serve the hospital system’s seven-county region, hospital officials said.
By stationing the EC135 T2 helicopters in Onslow and Columbus counties, health providers will be able to cut response times and deliver critical care and air ambulance services to patients who suffer a traumatic illness or injury.
“New Hanover County residents are fortunate to live close to a trauma center. Our VitaLink [ground transport] and EMS crews can get a patient to the hospital within the critical window for care,” Jack Barto, president and CEO of New Hanover Regional, said in a news release. “People’s lives depend on how quickly they can get to the care they need – whether it’s here or another specialized facility outside the region. This dual aircraft model will allow us to save precious time in emergencies when every minute counts.”
New Hanover Regional’s AirLink helicopter and pilots are provided by Air Methods Corporation, and the medical crew is provided by the hospital. The team provides transport services for patients with traumatic injuries, stroke, cardiac events, high-risk obstetrics and pediatric emergencies.
As part of New Hanover Regional, the AirLink program receives no local tax dollars.
The AirLink helicopter is staffed by medical personnel “who receive hundreds of hours of critical care transport training,” John Popella, director of critical care transport at the hospital, said in the release.
“We can actually begin intensive care for the patient while in flight. Being able to provide this kind of care, in addition to the convenience of stationing the helicopters in Onslow and Columbus counties, will complement the services already provided to residents in the area,” Popella said.
Experts to gather for trauma symposium
Regional and national speakers will meet Feb. 15-16 in Wilmington to share their experiences and expertise in responding to traumatic events, including two health providers who will speak about the deadly movie theater shooting last year in Colorado.
The 24th annual Trauma & Emergency Symposium – “Standing Ready, Saving Lives” – will be held at the Wilmington Convention Center.
The symposium will emphasize education and preparedness in the trauma hospital, pre-hospital and disaster arenas, said Lindsay Fletcher, spokeswoman for the South East Area Health Education Center, event co-sponsor with New Hanover Regional.
The symposium is geared toward first responders, medical professionals and other health care providers.
Scheduled speakers include:
• Dr. Harry Teter, executive director of the American Trauma Society, who will analyze the history and progress of trauma care in the U.S. and provide insights of future developments in the field.
• Dr. Kimball Maull, an adjunct professor of surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Birmingham, Ala. Maull will speak about his experience establishing a trauma system at Hamad General Hospital in Qatar.
• Dr. Charles Little, an associate professor of emergency medicine at the University of Colorado in Denver, and Patrick Conroy, manager of support services at the University of Colorado Hospital in Aurora, Colo., will lead a panel discussion on the theater shooting last year in Aurora that killed 12
and injured 58.
For more information on the symposium, speakers and a schedule of events, go to www.seahec.net.
NHRMC Hospitality House seeks volunteers
New Hanover Regional’s Hospitality House of Wilmington is looking for volunteers to provide assistance at the reception area desk.
The Hospitality House, a subsidiary of the NHRMC Auxiliary, provides housing for family members of patients being treated at the nearby hospital. Volunteers at the 11-room
house help in many ways, including answering telephone inquiries, greeting new guests and providing a tour and overview of the facility. Those who can’t commit to a weekly or monthly schedule “can make a difference as a substitute or holiday volunteer,” a volunteer supervisor said.
Hospitality House volunteers must be at least 18 years old.
For more information or to apply to be a volunteer, contact Nancy Applewhite at 815-5312 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wilmington Health joins Medicare ACO plan
Authorities recently chose Wilmington Health subsidiary Physicians Healthcare Collaborative LLC as one of 106 new Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) to work with Medicare beneficiaries.
About 100 other organizations nationally signed similar agreements with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in 2012.
The intent behind ACOs, which are models of care born out of the federal health care reform law, is to have a network of health care providers sharing patient care responsibilities though beneficiaries do not have to chose doctors in the ACO.
Last summer, Wilmington Health jumped into the ACO model, teaming up with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina to launch the program with the private insurer.
That program, as well as the newly announced Medicare program, took effect Jan. 1 forWilmington Health, said the practice’s CEO Jeff James.
Since the federal health law passed, more than 250 ACOs have formed nationally, according to a news release.
James said that CMS attributed 12,800 Medicare beneficiaries to the Wilmington Health-related ACO.
Federal officials estimate that the Medicare ACO initiative could save up to $940 million over four years nationally, according to a news release.