Methodist AirCare takes to the South Texas skies

Today, Methodist Healthcare launched Methodist AirCare, an emergency air transport service that provides life-saving 24/7 emergency helicopter service to residents located throughout Bexar county and most of South Texas.   The service is a partnership with REACH Air Medical Services (REACH); the helicopter and staff will be housed at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital

MHS copter“Methodist Healthcare has a long history of providing quality care to the residents of South Texas.  We are now making it more convenient to rapidly transport patients from rural locales to a Methodist Healthcare facility,” said Geoffrey Crabtree, senior vice president for Methodist Healthcare.  “One call can summon a state-of-the-art emergency medical transport helicopter piloted and staffed by a team of highly trained specialists.  Whether the need is to rush an infant to a Level 3 neonatal intensive care unit, transport a high-risk expectant mom or stroke patient or a myriad of other medical emergencies, Methodist AirCare is at the community’s call 24/7/365,” he said. 

“Methodist Healthcare is an outstanding partner and provider and REACH is pleased and proud to be a partner in enriching and extending their already-excellent care network,” said Jim Adams, CEO of REACH Air Medical Services. “Collaborations of this quality greatly benefit the communities we serve.”

Methodist has had formalized specialty transport teams in place for more than fifteen years.  These pediatric, neonatal and maternal transport teams have been experiencing an increase in emergency transports, reaching nearly 800 patients in 2008.  Methodist AirCare will begin by dedicating the helicopter to these teams in the first month of service.  This increase in continuity of care by flying Methodist specialty care transport teams in a Methodist AirCare helicopter will add a new quality of care dimension not now experienced with current transport services.  Shortly, Methodist AirCare will evolve to 911 trauma, scene and adult transports from throughout South Texas to complete the spectrum of air transport care.

 REACH was chosen as Methodist’s partner due in part to its extensive experience in emergency air transport.  REACH Air Medical Services is well established and experienced with bases throughout California and Oregon.  REACH has performed more than 50,000 air ambulance missions since its inception in 1987.  

The Methodist AirCare helicopter is the Eurocopter EC-135, a twin-turbine engine helicopter renowned for its outstanding reliability and maneuverability.  Its Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) rating gives Methodist AirCare the ability to perform in almost any weather condition, even when others cannot.  For added safety, the aircraft is equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS) and Terrain Avoidance Warning Systems (TAWS).  Pilots for Methodist AirCare average over 5,000 hours as a pilot-in-command and are all instrument-rated and current under a rigid training and check-ride program controlled by the FAA.  Not only are Methodist AirCare pilots familiar with South Texas terrain, their training with Night Vision Goggles (NVG) technology allows them to perform life-saving operations in the darkest conditions. 

MHS copter2The bright yellow helicopter and its crew will be housed at Methodist Stone Oak Hospital, the newest Methodist Healthcare facility.  “The staff and doctors at this hospital are pleased that we were chosen to serve as home base for this new transport service,” said Dean Alexander, CEO of Methodist Stone Oak Hospital.  “We have only been open seven months yet we have proven we are filling community needs in North Central San Antonio and rural markets to the north of us.  From March through September, we have admitted over 2,400 inpatients, 9,030 emergency department visits and 797 outpatient surgeries.   We are already adding beds and expanding services, including beginning an open heart program by year-end.  Now, we have this much needed air transport service here for all of the residents of South Texas, he said.

Methodist Healthcare is the largest and most preferred health care system in South Texas with 24-facilities.  Eight facilities are acute care hospitals:  Methodist Hospital; Methodist Heart Hospital; Methodist Children’s Hospital; Methodist Specialty and Transplant Hospital; Northeast Methodist Hospital; Metropolitan Methodist Hospital; Methodist Stone Oak Hospital and Methodist Ambulatory Surgery Hospital.

— SA Health


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