BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) The University of Vermont Medical Center is taking to the sky thanks to a new partnership with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center's DHART helicopter.
"It could often take three or four hours to get a sick patient from upstate rural New York to the UVM Medical Center, so the capabilities of flight really will help," said Ryan Clouser, the Regional Transport System Health Officer for UVM Medical Center.
Right now, 97 percent of inter-hospital travel happens on the ground. That's going to change thanks to a new partnership with the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team, or DHART. Now, its helicopter will fly out of the Burlington International Airport.
"We felt that it would be a great opportunity to extend the reach of DHART and UVM combined into territory that we don't traditionally serve out of the Lebanon base," said Kyle Madigan with DHART.
The helicopter and flight operations are being run through Dartmouth-Hitchcock, but the medical staff on the helicopter will be UVM Medical Center employees. That medical staff includes a critical care nurse, a paramedic, and sometimes a doctor on board.
The helicopter is one part of the hospital's expanded effort to offer faster care, now implementing a 24-7 Regional Transfer Center, allowing medical providers to make one call to arrange for transportation. Before, emergency room providers would have to leave the bedside to make these arrangements.
"The transport system is all about ensuring we're providing the highest quality care to that patient, transporting them efficiently wherever they need to be, and ensuring that the quality of the care they receive is top notch," Clouser said.
While the improved regional transport system is in place right now, the helicopter is not operational just yet. The hospital expects the helicopter to be in the air very soon.
The program, so far, costs less than $100,000, this includes training and equipment for the crew. Payroll numbers are not included in that cost because flight team members were already employees.