Brian Leonard, director of business development for HealthOne’s AirLife program, addresseses Wednesday’s MMH Forum crowd about the 24/7, 365-days-a-year service they’re looking to base in Holyoke starting next month. — Johnson Publications
Air ambulance to be based at MMH
AirLife’s green and blue helicopter will soon be a regular sight on the helicopter pad east of Melissa Memorial Hospital.
Brian Leonard, director of business development for the AirLife program by HealthOne, was excited to share information at the April 4 MMH annual forum.
Leonard pointed out that AirLife is a stand-alone program. The relations with MMH are to lease the space, and they hope to be there within the next few weeks.
MMH CEO Trampas Hutches said the resident building, also located east of the hospital, was constructed as part of the recent remodeling. With a change in direction of resident docs coming here, the hospital was looking for ways to utilize that space.
AirLife will be leasing four apartments in the residence building to house flight-crew staff. Leonard said they’ve also secured off-duty housing in Holyoke.
A pilot, two medical clinicians and a dedicated mechanic will be on duty 24/7, 365 days a year, said Leonard.
This helicopter base in Holyoke is AirLife’s fifth between Wyoming and Colorado. Leonard said staff will rotate among the bases to give them a much larger scope of the areas.
A similar model to the helicopter base planned in Holyoke was opened in 2015 at Lincoln Community Hospital in Hugo.
AirLife serves a 10-state region. In addition to helicopter transports, two fixed-wing aircraft stay based in Denver but are available to transport longer distances.
Additionally, Leonard said the crew here will be trained in pediatrics, but if there are neonatal or high-risk obstetric needs, they have these specialty teams on duty in Denver that can be sent out.
While they’re a HealthOne program, Leonard said, “We’re at the discretion of the community we serve. If you’re here and you want to go to North Platte, Nebraska, or to Fort Collins, that’s where we go.”
He clarified that the patient will have a conversation with their local physician about where they want to be taken, and the physician will tell the AirLife crew.
“We are a resource,” added Leonard. If a patient comes in and MMH staff asks if AirLife staff can help, they’re prepared to do so. But outside of that, they’re on-site for the AirLife services.
“We’re here to support northeast Colorado and southwest Nebraska,” said Leonard, noting that they will service other area hospitals’ air helicopter needs, as well.
Several community members asked about the AirMedCare membership that they’d purchased in recent years.
Leonard clarified that AirMedCare is a membership, not an insurance program. And, no, AirLife can’t honor AirMedCare memberships.
Can a patient request that AirMedCare be called? “Absolutely,” said Leonard. “We’re here at the request of the hospital and physician.” The trouble is that in a time of urgency when every minute counts, there’s a time delay to call in a transport service that isn’t right here.
AirLife has not seen the need to offer memberships, said Leonard.
Historically, roughly two-thirds of health care needs are Medicare/Medicaid patients, and the government establishes firm rates that patients pay.
Leonard said they have typically already worked with a majority of the commercial-pay insurance groups to set rates and help patients reduce expenses for health care, including air transportation.
And for the uninsured patient, there are hardship designation opportunities.
“We look forward to being part of the community,” said Leonard, adding that they’ve already joined the Chamber of Commerce. “We’re here to serve your needs.”