There have been a lot of questions and speculations surrounding the decision to close the base.
On Tuesday, WEIS Radio News reached out to Kurt Stuenkel, President and CEO of Floyd Medical Center to address some of those issues. We received the following email statement from Floyd Medical Center regarding the closure of the Air-Life 15 Base in Rome:
Air-Life Georgia announced that they are closing their base at Redmond Regional Medical Center. It is important for our community to know they are not without air ambulance support and that air ambulance service is available when they need it.
Although Air-Life has not indicated that Floyd’s use of their service was in any way related to Air-Life Georgia’s decision to close its base at Redmond, recent chatter in social media has attempted to hold Floyd responsible. Air-Life made a business decision with Redmond to establish their service at Redmond. Floyd was not consulted prior to this decision. Now they have made a decision to close it. Floyd was not involved in that decision either.
It should be noted that over a month ago Floyd invited Redmond’s board to open a broader discussion led by physicians and other clinicians about clinical decision-making and the appropriate transport and treatment of trauma patients in our community, but that offer was not accepted.
It should be further noted that Floyd has not stopped using Air-Life. In fact, we used the Air-Life helicopter based at Redmond as recently as Monday (yesterday), and we will continue to use their service, when appropriate. Our decisions are based on what is best for our patients. In fact, it would be improper to guarantee a pre-determined volume of calls to any air ambulance provider, as aeromedical transport is reserved for the most critical patients, and the need for that service, thankfully, is sporadic and uncommon. It is in the best interest of our patients for clinicians and physicians to have flexibility in choosing an air ambulance provider.
Some may argue that our community is less safe without a helicopter service based in Rome. This is simply not true. Air-Life’s decision will not result in a delay in care for the community. When aeromedical support is needed, an air ambulance will be available and can be at the helipad in less than 10 minutes. Our physicians have confirmed that patients rarely, if ever, wait on the air ambulance to arrive. Instead, the emergency team is using this time to stabilize and prepare the patient for air transport. There are several aeromedical transport options that can easily reach any of our patients quickly and efficiently, and they are supported by the outstanding care provided by the receiving hospitals they serve.
Floyd’s approach to aeromedical resources is that we use them sparingly and only when medically necessary, with the full support of our outstanding emergency room physicians, trauma surgeons and emergency clinicians.