Air Methods Blog 

 

During COVID-19 Crisis, Air Medical Services Are Crucial Component To Timely Patient Care

by JaeLynn Williams | Apr 09, 2020

By JaeLynn Williams, CEO

During this national healthcare crisis, Air Methods continues to provide life-saving emergency air medical services for patients. The safety of our teammates, partners and our patients, remains our top priority and our vital services will continue, without disruption as long as we can do so in a safe manner, in accordance with proper medical protocol.

Emergency air medical providers are a critical link in ensuring rural medical access. As COVID-19 spreads from more urban areas to our rural communities, we stand ready to care for those critically ill patients who are facing respiratory failure, among other conditions. Strokes, heart attacks, and scene accidents don’t stop because of this pandemic, and if the outbreak worsens, we will see greater need for air medical services to transport patients to the appropriate care environment. Moreover, if the outbreak worsens, ICUS may become overwhelmed and patients will need to be transported to other hospitals.

To that end, Air Methods has formed a COVID-19 task force to evaluate all care challenges, recommend appropriate actions, and implement new protocols. We will continue to monitor and evaluate evolving national, state and local guidance via the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), local health officials and our teammates.

Air Methods has equipped our clinical and operations teams with procedures and safeguards for care of patients during the pandemic, including patients symptomatic for COVID-19. These include the use of personal protective equipment (PPE), which is critical for the health and safety of our teams, their loved ones, and the communities and patients we serve. We are following CDC recommendations regarding disinfection of the transport vehicle after transporting a patient with a potential or confirmed case of COVID-19.  Office-based staff who can do their job remotely are working from home to reduce unnecessary risk.

It has been brought to our attention that some air medical companies have made the decision to stop transporting COVID-19 patients. The safety of our pilots and clinicians is our top priority. Air Methods is flying, and will continue to fly, positive/suspected COVID-19 patients only when the proper PPE is available for our crew. We are called to transport patients due to the critical nature of their condition - as long as we have the appropriate PPE for the safety of our crew, we will respond.

Air Methods is working closely with our local, state and federal officials, as well as our local partners to ensure that the medical supplies and equipment supply chain is not disrupted. It is critical that air medical providers have access to additional supply chains for PPEs in the short term to ensure continued operations.

As our partners see their patient load increase, we are working with them to assist with surge capacity. We are identifying resources, collaborating with local EMS and Fire, and assistance planning for EMS/HEMS vehicle control/staging. Additionally, we are coordinating communication through our AirCom office with national emergency communications center, fielding calls, providing flight coordination, logistical support, and use of our AirCom app to save time, improve accuracy, and simplifying the process resulting in better outcomes.

We are also taking every measure to protect the financial wellbeing of patients affected by COVID-19. We have implemented a patient advocacy process for these patients and are actively working with all payers in-network and out-of-network payers to form productive partnerships. We will work closely with our patients to ensure their emergency air medical service is covered.

During this challenging time, the safety of our employees and patients is our top priority. We recognize this is an ever-changing situation, and as new information arises, we will continue to update policies and procedures as needed. We are committed to continue providing the best care in the air to the communities that rely on us. 

5 comments

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