August 30, 2014

Medical helicopter will now be based in Clarinda

The Clarinda Regional Health Center in southwest Iowa is getting an air ambulance in an agreement with Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines.

Clarinda C.E.O. Chris Stipe says the 24-hour service will cover a 15-county region in Iowa and parts of northwest Missouri.

“Our hospital is a full-service rural facility, but sometimes folks obviously need to be airlifted to a higher level of care…. for patients it means minutes matter when it comes to heart attacks and strokes,” Stipe says. “And it means a faster response time from the helicopter to get patients to the care that they need at the larger medical center.”

The service operated by the Colorado-based company Air Methods will be called “Mercy One Clarinda.” Stipe says the air crew and helicopter will be based in Clarinda, which is part of a switch in the philosophy of the service.

“I think the helicopter services used to fly from metropolitan areas, now they’re realizing they need to be where the patients are. And there is a large population to serve in our rural area here and there’s a lot of hospitals in the region that can take advantage of the service,” Stipe explains.

Stipe says the agreement with the Des Moines facility allows his hospital to offer better service. “This is something that is costing our hospital very little to have this service here. Air Methods and Mercy Medical Center Des Moines are really the financing behind it. We wouldn’t have a helicopter here on our own without these partners,” Stipe says.

“We support it, they are gonna have crew quarters on our campus, their crew is going to be part of our local family. It’s not something that our local hospital is investing in, we just support it,” Stipe says. Mercy says it has hired 11 new flight paramedics and nurses and three pilots and a mechanic to staff the helicopter service in Clarinda.

The helicopter will service several communities, including: Atlantic, Corning, Creston, Mount Ayr, Red Oak, Shenandoah. The Clarinda hospital has 25 beds, compared to 802 at Mercy Medical in Des Moines.

Photo courtesy of Mercy Medical Center.