A ribbon cutting ceremony was held this morning on May 25 to celebrate the new LifeLink Air Helicopter stationed at Bladen County Hospital.
Bladen County has about 30,000 residents and its hospital provides care for residents of Elizabethtown, where it’s located, and for people in neighboring communities including Bladenboro, Clarkton, Tar Heel and White Lake.
The helicopter is needed, officials say, to ensure Bladen County provides the best possible care to patients whose health conditions warrant receiving medical treatment at more advanced hospitals ASAP. The new helicopter, an Airbus H-135, will be staffed by a nurse, a paramedic and a pilot 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Currently, Cape Fear Valley Health operates two aircraft that service Harnett and Scotland counties. This third helicopter will allow Cape Fear Valley to move eastward and help patients in Bladen County.
“For serious health conditions, we’re going to stabilize the patient as best we can and get them transferred to the closest hospital, and for us that’s Cape Fear Valley Medical Center in Fayetteville,” said Brian Langston, corporate director of patient logistics for Cape Fear Valley Health, in a press release. “We believe it brings transport solutions or connectivity from our community hospital here in Elizabethtown to tertiary areas across the state and allows rapid transport to those patients and services that are not locally available.”
Hospital President Stephen Fife said the aircraft is an example of Cape Fear Valley Health’s commitment to investing in, supporting and taking care of Bladen County residents. Fife, Bladen County Manager Greg Martin, EMS Team Director David Howell and other local stakeholders evaluated the need, benefits and potential for community utilization of the helicopter before agreeing it was a good fit.
“People in this region around the Bladen County Hospital need better access either to be brought to the Bladen county emergency department or for a higher level of care, such as the medical center in Fayetteville, and you heard the statistics, we can fly from this helicopter pad to the trauma center in Fayetteville in less than 15 minutes. It’s normally a 45-50 minute ride, and time means everything in an emergency,” shared Cape Fear Valley Health CEO Michael Nagowski.
Through a partnership, Med-Trans provides the helicopter, the mechanic, the pilot and the flight certificate, and Cape Fear Valley provides the clinical oversight, the crew, the facilities and medical supplies, including a defibrillator, a ventilator, IV infusion pumps, medications and blood products.
CEO Nagowski shared another interesting detail about the healthcare professionals who will be operating the helicopter and services on board it: “These healthcare professionals, the pilots, the nurses, the techs, they’re all from this area. Two of them were born in Bladen County Hospital. So it’s a full circle. They’re able now to give back to their community with technology. So, what a great marriage of local ownership and technology.”
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