New transport system to benefit Porter

BURLINGTON — A project led by the University of Vermont Health Network to improve care for critically ill patients who need to be moved urgently among hospitals in our region is marking major steps forward in August.
First, a 24/7 Regional Transfer Center is now in operation, which is improving the efficiency and coordination of patient transports. In addition, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART) air ambulance program is partnering with the network to expand its service to Burlington. Training flights will start this week, and patient transports are expected to begin in mid-August.
For the past two years, hospitals, medical transportation providers, patient and family advisors and others have worked together to design a new Regional Transport System (RTS) to replace the current patchwork arrangements and inconsistent standards that can impact the quality of care. The goal of the RTS is to improve outcomes and save lives by providing the highest quality of care in the right location at the right time, using the safest, most appropriate mode of transportation, and do it in a fiscally responsible manner.
“Minutes matter for patients suffering from heart attacks, trauma, strokes and other life-threatening problems, which is why we’ve designed the RTS to get patients to the nearest facility that can meet their needs as quickly as possible, which may or may not be the UVM Medical Center,” said Ryan Clouser, DO, medical director of the Regional Transport System.
The Regional Transfer Center will manage all patient transfers by ground and air to UVM Health Network affiliates from 13 hospitals in a 40,000-square-mile area. Any provider seeking to send a patient to a network hospital can call the Regional Transfer Center staff, who will coordinate the logistics to make sure the patient gets to the right place at the right time using the most appropriate mode of travel.
“This ‘one-call-does-it-all’ system can be a major improvement over current practice,” said Kent Hall, MD, vice president of Medical Affairs/Chief Medical Officer at University of Vermont Health Network Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital. “Today, providers in the emergency department may be pulled away from the bedside for long periods of time to make these arrangements themselves.”
UVM Health Network Porter Medical Center CEO, Dr. Fred Kniffin, agrees.
“As an emergency department physician, I know the value of timely transfer of critically ill or injured patients from the community hospital setting to a larger medical center. As a leader of the UVM Health Network, I understand the value that this new service brings to our region and to small affiliate hospitals like Porter,” he said. “This is a huge win for our Addison County and Brandon patients and the people throughout our region.”
The Dartmouth-Hitchcock Advanced Response Team (DHART), an air and ground ambulance service of Dartmouth-Hitchcock, is adding a base at the Burlington International Airport to its existing locations in Lebanon and Manchester, New Hampshire. The expansion is designed to make patient transports between hospitals by helicopter more readily available in northern Vermont and New York when needed.
In this new collaboration, DHART will supply the helicopter and pilots, and will handle all business operations. UVM Medical Center will not own or lease the helicopter, but its-trained clinical teams will provide care on board. DHART’s training of the UVM Medical Center teams has been ongoing since the spring. Training flights around the RTS service area will begin this week, with patient transports expected to begin by mid-August.
Additional quality improvements in the RTS, including establishing uniform standards for education and certification of transport staff, will be implemented in the coming year.

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