Patients airlifted to Jewish Hospital, part of KentuckyOne Health, now have a new place to land. The Jack M. and Janis B. Klempner Family Helipad officially opened today atop the Jewish Hospital Patient and Guest Parking Garage.
Previously, patients airlifted to Jewish Hospital landed at University of Louisville Hospital and were then transported via ambulance.
The $2.1 million project is funded by the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation and includes the creation of a pedway connecting the helipad area directly to the third floor of the Rudd Heart and Lung Center, where the cardiac catheterization and electrophysiology labs are located. This connection creates access for cardiac patients to be transported directly from the helipad into the area to where they will receive care, bypassing the emergency department.
“As a leader in heart care, we must continue to invest in improvements and technology that make us even better equipped to handle critical heart cases,” said Joe Gilene, president, Jewish Hospital, and downtown market leader.
Direct access for critical patients further strengthens the hospital’s existing STEMI Network, established in 2013, which ensures the fastest access to life saving care for patients with a complete blockage of the coronary artery.
Each year in the United States, approximately 250,000 people have a STEMI, or ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction, caused by a complete blockage of blood flow to the heart that requires timely treatment. To prevent death, it’s critical to immediately restore blood flow, either by surgically opening the blocked vessel or by giving clot-busting medication.
The STEMI Network allows emergency medical services to transmit EKG results directly to the Jewish Hospital emergency department. If the emergency department determines the patient has elevated ST levels—a pattern on an EKG reading that indicates a total blockage—an emergency physician can alert the hospital’s cardiac catheterization lab team. This protocol enables the patient to receive treatment more quickly, and helps prevent or limit permanent damage to the heart muscle.
The helipad will also reduce transport time for hand, organ transplant, heart care and other types of clinical care patients. Those with critical cardiopulmonary issues, such as individuals with left ventricular assist devices (LVAD) and those on extracorpeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO), a machine that takes over the work of the lungs and heart in critical patients will have a faster route to the care they need. Jewish Hospital is the only adult organ transplant center in the region and the only hospital in the area providing critical services like LVAD and ECMO to the most serious heart patients.
“Decreasing the time for transport for these critically ill patients is truly a lifesaving investment,” said Mark Slaughter, MD, executive director of cardiovascular services for the KentuckyOne Health Louisville market, chair of the Department of Cardiovascular and Thoracic Surgery at the University of Louisville and who practices with UofL Physicians. “We are grateful to the Jewish Hospital & St. Mary’s Foundation and its donors for providing support for this important project.”
The naming of the helipad for the Klempner family recognizes the family’s contributions to air ambulance service dating back to the 1980s. In 1982, Jewish Hospital launched SKYCARE, Kentucky’s first hospital-based air ambulance service. Jack Klempner, a successful scrap-metal businessman, was the first chairman of the board of SKYCARE. Over the years, the Klempner family contributed to an endowment created to cover the cost of transporting indigent cases to the hospital.
Jewish Hospital sold its interest in air transit in 2006. Today, the hospital collaborates with air ambulance services, Air Evac Lifeteam, Air Methods Kentucky and PHI Air Medical. These service providers were consulted during the design process of the new helipad as well.