By Juan Soto
Faster emergency treatment is on the way for borough and area residents with life-threatening injuries due to the launching of a medical helicopter at the North Shore-LIJ Health System.
The same day the hospital unveiled its SkyHealth service, North Shore University Hospital was named a Level 1 trauma center by the American College of Surgeons.
The helicopter ambulance will transport patients from other hospitals unable to provide the necessary acute care.
“This helicopter could mean the difference between life and death for critically ill and trauma patients,” said Micheal Dowling, North Shore Hospital president. “It will provide better service, quicker service, appropriate service to people in need, to save lives.”
SkyHealth is expected to serve about 400 patients a year. A flight from Southside Hospital in Bay Shore to North Shore University Hospital is about 10 to 15 minutes, compare to a 40-minute ambulance ride without traffic.
“(The helicopter) is outfitted with highly sophisticated critical care technology, including medical ventilators, cardiac monitors, infant incubators and other life-saving equipment normally found in a hospital intense care unit,” said Gene Tangney, North Shore’s chief administrative officer.
SkyHealth is a partnership with Yale-New Haven Health, a Connecticut medical center.
“The helicopter enables us to avoid congested highways and provide the fastest hospital-to-hospital transfers for our most vulnerable patients,” Dowling said.
The $7 million investment is not the only modernization project that North Shore is undertaking. There is also a $6.5 million price tag for building a rooftop helipad at the hospital.
According to hospital officials, construction at the helipad should be completed by early next month. The Nassau County Police Aviation Bureau has been advising the North Shore University Hospital on how to design the structure.
The helicopter team includes a paramedic and a nurse.
“The medical team is specialized in inner facility transfers of critical patients who required rapid evaluation and treatment,” said Taryn Capasso, chief flight nurse for SkyHealth.
Nassau police helicopters will also be able to land on the helipad at the hospital. Other police departments, such as New York City’s or Suffolk County’s, will also be able to use the new heliport.
“This upgrade will save lives,” said Thomas Kruppter, acting Nassau County police commissioner.
Tangney said the new service will not supplement or replace “the great work of the Nassau police aviation unit.” He pointed out the chopper ambulance is intended for “hospital to hospital transfers.”
Reach reporter Juan Soto by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (718) 260–4564.