sky health

After completing a successful first year that included more than 280 patient transports between hospitals, SkyHealth will expand in 2016 to include scene work — responding to accidents and other emergencies.

The critical-care helicopter service, a partnership between Yale New Haven Health System and North Shore-LIJ Health System, celebrated its first anniversary Nov. 14, tallying more than 150 transports to Yale New Haven Hospital, several to the Connecticut Burn Center at Bridgeport Hospital and more than 130 to North Shore-LIJ. SkyHealth also transported five patients from Greenwich Hospital and 16 from Bridgeport Hospital.

"Despite the fact that we launched SkyHealth right before a difficult winter, we are meeting projected targets for transports," said Evie Marcolini, MD, YNHH SkyHealth medical director. "Most importantly, we are working with physicians at referring hospitals and our own physicians to get patients the highly specialized care they need as quickly as possible. In many cases, we're helping to save lives."

SkyHealth transports patients from referring hospitals throughout the region to the most appropriate YNHHS or North Shore-LIJ hospital. Outfitted with mechanical ventilators, cardiac monitors and other equipment, SkyHealth is staffed by critical-care nurses and critical-care paramedics, who provide care throughout each flight.

Referring physicians can request SkyHealth by calling the hospital's Y Access Line; Y Access staff work with YNHH physicians and coordinate the inter-facility transports. "It's a huge team effort," said Donnie MacMillan, PA, YNHH coordinator of flight operations for SkyHealth. "These are critically ill patients, so it takes everyone working together to ensure they receive the proper care before, during and after transport."

In 2016, SkyHealth will also begin doing "scene work," responding to accidents and other emergencies. Most of the work will focus on Fairfield and Litchfield counties and other areas Hartford Hospital's LIFE STAR helicopter doesn't cover, MacMillan said.

Some SkyHealth first-year statistics:
  • Hospitals sending the most patients to YNHH: Lawrence + Memorial, New London; Bridgeport Hospital; and Saint Mary's Hospital, Waterbury
  • Most common patient conditions: Stroke, sepsis and cardiac issues
  • YNHH service lines accepting the most SkyHealth patients: MICU, Trauma Surgery and Neurosurgery