Ascension Wisconsin Makes Changes To Air Transport

Jul 8, 2020

Spirit 2
Credit Ascension Wisconsin

Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport is announcing adjustments to its air medical transport operations in northern Wisconsin.

Changes include the discontinuation of the Spirit 2 helicopter based at Ascension's Howard Young Medical Center by the end of 2020 and the ending of an operational agreement at the end of August for Spirit 3, a fixed wing aircraft based at Lakeland Airport-Noble F. Lee Memorial Field in Arbor Vitae.

Spirit will still maintain a critical care ground base and resources for transport out of Woodruff from Howard Young Medical Center. Additional Spirit ground bases are located in Rhinelander, Weston and Stevens Point.

Ascension vice-president Dr. Stewart Watson says among the reasons for change is the current landscape of medical transportation services available in central and northern Wisconsin, the ongoing realignment of healthcare facilities and patient volumes.

We have the full press release below.

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Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transportation to Make Operational Adjustments

(Woodruff, WI)-Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport (Spirit) is announcing adjustments to its air medical transport operations in northern Wisconsin. These adjustments will allow Spirit to efficiently continue comprehensive medical transport services for the benefit of patients and the communities served in the region.

Key aspects of these operational adjustments include the discontinuation of service of the Spirit 2 Helicopter based at Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension, by the end of 2020 in Woodruff and the sunset of an operational agreement at the end of August for Spirit 3, a fixed wing aircraft based at Lakeland Airport/Noble F. Lee Memorial Field in Arbor Vitae.

“There are many changing dynamics in the delivery of healthcare services in the region that created the need for these difficult decisions,” said Stewart Watson, M.D., Vice President-Clinical, North Region, Ascension Wisconsin. Watson says those dynamics include the current landscape of medical transportation services available in central and northern Wisconsin, the ongoing realignment of healthcare facilities in the region and patient volumes.

Spirit conducted an extensive review of its operations that focused on past, present and predicted patient volumes and transportation needs. “Our review concluded that our air medical transport needs would be best met with a single helicopter strategically placed at the Central Wisconsin Airport (CWA) at Mosinee,” said Watson.

Spirit will still maintain a critical care ground base and resources for transport out of Woodruff from Howard Young Medical Center. Additional Spirit ground bases are located in Rhinelander, Weston and Stevens Point. “The response time with Spirit 1 from CWA to the Northwoods is consistent with the average time to diagnose and stabilize most patients in the emergency room prior to being ready to transport,” said Ted Ryan, Director, Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport. “We will leverage the full resources of our dispatch center and the talents of our dedicated associates to continue to manage our patient transport needs safely and effectively.”

Ryan adds that every effort will be made to transition affected Spirit associates into current open positions within Ascension Wisconsin that fall within their qualifications. “We will continue to monitor volumes and response times to ensure appropriate ground and air resources when needed,” said Ryan. 

For over 25 years, Spirit has provided critical care transport for patients and communities throughout central and northern Wisconsin. Today it serves central and northern Wisconsin and beyond with four ground bases and 12 ambulances located strategically in key communities and a helicopter based out of the Central Wisconsin Airport at Mosinee.

Spirit transports approximately 4,800 patients annually via ground and air across the region and holds the medical transport industry’s most respected and highest level of accreditation from The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS). This accreditation reflects Spirit’s commitment and focus on quality, patient care, and safety during medical transport. Currently there are only 159 critical care transport services world‐wide that have achieved CAMTS accreditation.

About Ascension Wisconsin:  In Wisconsin, Ascension operates 24 hospital campuses, more than 100 related healthcare facilities and employs more than 1,300 primary and specialty care clinicians from Racine to Eagle River. Serving Wisconsin since 1848, Ascension is a faith-based healthcare organization committed to delivering compassionate, personalized care to all, with special attention to persons living in poverty and those most vulnerable. Ascension is one of the leading non-profit and Catholic health systems in the U.S., operating 2,600 sites of care – including 150 hospitals and more than 50 senior living facilities – in 20 states and the District of Columbia.