When it comes to treating cardiac and stroke patients, time is critical.
Every moment of delay in getting a patient to an appropriate care facility means potentially more muscle or neurological damage, and reduces the chance that a patient will make a full recovery.
In early October, LifeFlight Eagle partnered with four frequent referring hospitals in its coverage area to launch a pilot program with the goal of reducing the time it takes to prepare a critically ill patient to fly.
LifeFlight Eagle worked closely with teams at Hedrick Medical Center in Chillicothe, Western Missouri Medical Center in Warrensburg, Cass Regional Medical Center in Harrisonville and Golden Valley Memorial Hospital in Clinton to initiate the pilot program.
LifeFlight Eagle provided extensive training to the emergency department staff, cardiac and neuro teams, admissions staff and security departments.
"The referring hospital is going to do many things to prepare the patient," said Sherri Dean, LifeFlight Eagle's Vice President of Clinical Services. "Once the flight team gets there, things are going to happen really, really fast."
In the past, the flight crews often spent additional time on the ground preparing the patient to fly.
Under the new program, the referring hospital staff will do more preparation work and will explain to the patient and family what is going to happen during the flight and transfer.
Once the medical flight crew arrives at the referring hospital, one crew member will get a quick report from the hospital's medical staff and the other crew member will meet briefly with the patient and family to complete consent forms. The goal is to be on the ground at the hospital for less than 15 minutes.
LifeFlight Eagle is also implementing similar programs with receiving hospitals to streamline the process of getting the patient off the helicopter and directly into the hands of specialists.
After allowing some time to evaluate and refine the processes at the pilot facilities, the program will be rolled out to all hospitals in the LifeFlight Eagle coverage area.
"Every minute you can shave off through efficient process and systems improves patient outcome," Dean said. "That is our goal."