By Brian Besch
HCA Houston AIRLife celebrated the grand opening of their new base in Livingston Friday with an open house. The site is the Allegiance Mobile Health facility located at 201 East 4th Street.
On display for visitors was a Bell 47 helicopter, which is a single-engine aircraft.
“She is our smallest and fastest of our fleet,” said Jennifer Castillo, a flight nurse with Houston AIRLife. “She was originally based out of Conroe, but about 80% of our calls were coming out of Polk and Tyler County. We found a need and wanted to go ahead and fill it and provide this community with care in the air.”
The Bell 47 is staffed with a pilot, nurse and paramedic at all times, picking up anyone from infants to those aged over 100.
“We can take care of anything in the air – heart attack, strokes or if anybody needs blood products in the air,” Castillo said. “What we found is while coming out here, we're able to the decrease the time to our patients, which ultimately means we get to our patients faster and can save a lot more lives. That's what it is all about for us, just taking care of those people that need it most. We are really happy to be here in the community. We are also able to extend the branch all the way to Tyler County, because they really don't have anything up there either. That's cut down our ETAs there as well, so it has been really great so far.”
If patients are able to request a hospital, they can, but Castillo said many in the community have requested St. Elizabeth's in Beaumont. However, if patients are not able to request, they are taken to the most appropriate facility. Many burns are lifted to Galveston and Memorial Hermann in downtown Houston. The two closest HCA facilities are located in Conroe and Kingwood for trauma, neuro and cardiac. Anything that they cannot handle is taken to downtown Houston, which is around 15 to 16 minutes longer. For a critical patient, the quicker trip can mean life or death.