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Life Flight Network Partners with Grande Ronde Hospital; Works with AirLink for Seamless Transition of Transport Services for Northeast Oregon

Hospital news | Thursday, May 5, 2011

Contact: Mardi Ford

Life Flight Network is pleased to announce a new partnership with Grande Ronde Hospital. Effective June 01, the emergency air medical transportation base serving La Grande and surrounding communities will transition from AirLink Critical Care Transport of Bend, OR to Life Flight Network of Portland, OR.

The new service will include basing a (rotor-wing) helicopter in La Grande, which will provide multiple new benefits to the region, and Life Flight will continue to provide fixed wing medical transport services from one of its 11 bases of operation across Oregon, Washington and Idaho. Life Flight will honor all existing local AirLink memberships when transporting patients, with member benefits extended to multiple air providers in the Pacific Northwest.

“We’re honored to partner with Grande Ronde Hospital. Adding an emergency helicopter service to the area means providing patients with increased access to life saving medical care, including the ability to provide on-scene transport for victims of accidents and those suffering medical emergencies, something a fixed-wing aircraft cannot do,” said Life Flight Network CEO Michael Griffiths.

In addition to providing expanded emergency air medical transport services, Griffiths said Life Flight will invest in the community by adding local jobs.

“We look forward to integrating the rich experiences of Grande Ronde Hospital into our nationally recognized air medical service while simultaneously adding more than $1 million in annual payroll to Union County,” Griffiths said.

Bob Gomes is CEO of Pioneer Memorial Hospital, Prineville, and the senior executive overseeing AirLink – which is owned by the St. Charles Health System, Bend, OR. He emphasized great care was taken to ensure the region would experience a seamless transition from AirLink to Life Flight.

“It’s been our pleasure to serve the regional community with high-quality air transport services for many years,” Gomes said. “We feel the timing is right for a transition in services and we are pleased that the
La Grande community will continue to have access to emergency air transport through Life Flight.”

Grande Ronde Hospital recently became affiliated with Life Flight Network’s part-owner, Saint Alphonsus Health System, Boise, ID. The transition of services from AirLink to Life Flight is consistent with that affiliation and supported by the leadership at St. Charles.

Grande Ronde Hospital Board Chair, Lynn Harris, said, “The idea of placing a helicopter in La Grande was an outgrowth of our affiliation with Saint Alphonsus and a good example of a significant patient benefit coming from our close working relationship.”

“Our team has been privileged to work with AirLink and their excellent fixed-wing program for the past 10 years,” said GRH President and CEO Jim Mattes. “We are so pleased the opportunity was there for us to transition to the Life Flight Network. In combination with Life Flight’s fixed-wing capabilities, our patients have access to the many additional benefits of a helicopter service. Transfer times with a helicopter are less than fixed-wing because they can directly land at the receiving hospital. No ambulance transfer from the airport to the receiving hospital means improved medical service for our patients – especially for stroke, cardiac or trauma.”

Life Flight Network has a proven track record of providing the highest level of critical care transport and operates a membership program similar to the one currently offered by AirLink in La Grande and surrounding communities. AirLink memberships will be honored by Life Flight Network and members will continue to receive reciprocal coverage from eight other not-for-profit Northwest air medical providers.

In 2009, the Boise-based Saint Alphonsus Health System, which recently became affiliated with Grande Ronde Hospital, became a part owner of Life Flight Network. Today, Life Flight Network bases of operation include Aurora, Hillsboro, Eugene, and Ontario, Oregon; Longview and Dallesport, Washington; and Boise, McCall, Mountain Home, Pocatello, and Lewiston, Idaho. With the addition of operations in La Grande, Life Flight Network will have a combined fleet of 11 medical helicopters, 5 fixed-wing aircraft, and 4 ground ambulances.

In 2010, Life Flight Network was named one of the 100 best non-profit organizations to work for by Oregon Business Magazine and in 2009 was a recipient of the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) Program of the Year award. The Program of the Year is recognized as the most celebrated and prestigious award available and marked the first time in the history of AAMS a flight program based on the west coast received this award. Receiving the AAMS Program of the Year award is recognition Life Flight Network provides the very highest levels of patient care, management expertise, quality leadership, customer service, safety and community service.