Barbara Gref | Democrat
ABOVE, COURT CURNEEN, a flight RN, is one of a staff of six flight personnel who are now based at Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris. A LifeNet helicopter is also now based at Harris, making CRMC the fifth in a network of medevac choppers serving the region. At right, Victor Gordon, 92, who donated the helipad to the hospital 22 years ago, was on hand to help celebrate the establishment of the new base in a ceremony at CRMC this past Tuesday.
Copter Raises Standard of Care
By Barbara Gref
HARRIS March 9, 2007 Catskill Regional Medical Center celebrated the first month of its new LifeNet medevac service Tuesday with a ribbon cutting and a gathering of hospital staff and supporters. Though a wind chill factor in the subzero range canceled the actual ribbon cutting, plenty of otherwise festive sentiments were accorded to the new service. LifeNet, a Denver-based medical flight services corporation, and CRMC formed a partnership in order to establish the newest base at the Harris hospital.
A LifeNet medical transport helicopter and a crew of LifeNet flight personnel are based directly at the hospital. Prior to this, helicopters had to be called to Harris. And while these choppers could operate from Harris, the new base means response times can be cut to almost nothing. The Harris base, the fifth for LifeNet in New York, can now also respond more quickly to trauma scenes. The chopper can fly victims to Westchester Medical, the Albany Medical Center and to other facilities within the 250 nautical mile range of the LifeNet service.
The new base went into operation on Jan. 24 and in its first 30 days, 30 flights were made out of Harris, the most common of which was to Westchester Medical Center in Valhalla, officials said.
LifeNet is responsible for the financial end of the service, which most often includes billing insurance companies for the lift. CRMC, on its end of the bargain, provides the fourth-floor headquarters for the staff and the helipad for the LifeNet “ship.”
Hospital Chief Financial Officer Nick Lanza said the new alliance is designed to make CRMC the “provider of choice” when it comes to healthcare in the region and that its new LifeNet status is “a giant step in that direction.”
Lanza made his comments to a roomful of well-wishers including John Turner of Narrowsburg, who got one of the first rides from the new base when he was having a heart attack. Turner said the flight was smooth and the care was professional. The last time he flew in chopper, the Vietnam Veteran said, “the doors were open and the machine guns were firing.” Turner said he’s now well on his way to recovery.
Also present was 92-year-old Victor Gordon, who was a special guest at the celebration. Twenty-two years ago, he and his wife donated the helipad to the hospital in memory of their son, Harris Gordon, who was killed when his twin-engine plane crashed. The existence of the helipad at Harris made the new LifeNet base possible.