Hutchinson hospital could lose its medical helicopter


A helicopter that’s used to transport trauma patients from Hutchinson to Wichita could possibly leave the Hutch area for good, leaving some residents concerned.

“This is a lifesaver,” Chelsie Rosenberg said. “Why take it away from people that need it?”

It was 11 years ago, when 11-year-old Rosenberg was out riding ATV’s with her family until she was in an accident and needed help.

“I felt like I was going into a black hole,” she said. “I didn’t have any feeling in my left side.”

Rosenberg was airlifted to Wichita when she flat lined in the helicopter and had to be revived at Wesley Medical Center.

She said if it wasn’t for the quick, 15-minute-helicopter ride, she would be dead.

Chelsie is one of the several residents concerned about the hospital losing its only helicopter.

Two weeks ago, Life Save took the aircraft to Wichita to get it repainted and announced it might not return because it’s not getting enough use.

“We’re always in constant analysis of the distribution of our resources to best serve the patients,” Life Save’s Director of Business Operations Courtney Bachrodet said. “We’re always looking at the volume of patients needed to transport, ability of advance care and the distance of care that the patient needs.”

Bachrodet said Hutchinson Regional Medical Center has done a great job holding onto its more critical patients than in years past.

“Last year, Reno County EMS had 7,000 calls,” Hutchinson Regional Medical Center’s Communication Director Sue Wray said. “Thirty two of them did involve the helicopter in some way, but only 10 of those were actual trauma calls.”

Wray said EMS response time and care has improved, allowing more critical patients to recover in Hutchinson.

Also, flying versus driving to Wichita is only an eight minute difference, so this possible change isn’t something to be concerned about, she said.

“It’s a good thing not to have to transfer patients,” she said. “We’re really excited our critical patience get to stay in the hospital until they’re better.”

Live Save officials told KSN no matter what, they’re still going to continue to have a long-standing relationship with the hospital. 

“The hospital will still have access to helicopters,” Bachrodet said. “Right now, we’re just taking a hard look at the health care needs of everyone in the state of Kansas.”

Life Save has several aircrafts located throughout the state.

They are looking closely at the placement of all the locations.

The critical care transportation company operates aircrafts out of Dodge City, Emporia, Colby, Garden City and Hastings, Nebraska.

They also have fixed-wing planes out of Garden City, Liberal and McCook, Nebraska.

And ground units in Wichita and Dodge City, she said.

“Transporting is changing and patient transport is changing,” Bachrodet said. “The decision is pending.”

The decision for where the helicopter will be based has not been made, but Wray said if needed, the hospital will still have access to a helicopter.

“Even if they keep the helicopter in Wichita,” she said. “Early activation will allow us to get an aircraft to Hutchinson in a timely manner.”

The hospital and Life Save will meet in March to discuss further plans.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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