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CONTACT: TOM MOORE
Joint Office for Planning, Marketing and Communications
8788 John Pappajohn Pavilion
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 356-3945
e-mail: thomas-moore@uiowa.edu

Release: May 22, 2002

UI Hospitals and Clinics to contract for emergency transport services

University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics officials announced today plans to transition its medical helicopter dispatch services that involve the transfer of critically ill patients.

Under the proposal, the LifeCom Center in Omaha, Neb., would provide dispatch services for AirCare I, the medical emergency helicopter located at UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City, and AirCare II, based at Covenant Medical Center in Waterloo. LifeCom Center is operated by Rocky Mountain Helicopters of Provo, Utah, which also supplies both AirCare helicopters and their pilots. LifeCom currently provides ground ambulance dispatch services for Covenant Medical Center and will provide dispatch support for UI Hospitals and Clinics' mobile critical care units.

UI Hospitals and Clinics officials said the LifeCom Center is well positioned to recruit and retain dispatchers because of its expertise, the volume of cases it handles and its range of services. AirCare transported 839 patients last fiscal year. All of the dispatchers currently employed at UI Hospitals and Clinics would be able to continue working in the Integrated Call Center, which provides 24-hour service to people seeking health care information and consultation services for physicians.

Hospital officials said transferring dispatch services to the LifeCom Center would be "budget neutral" and thus would not represent an additional expense. Also, contracting with the LifeCom Center would save an estimated $160,000 during the next three to five years because UI Hospitals and Clinics would not have to purchase upgraded dispatch technology to meet recommended industry standards.

The LifeCom Center uses state-of-the-art communications and flight-following technology. The center plans to install an automated system based on global positioning satellites (GPS) that provides accurate, real-time flight-following capabilities. UI Hospitals and Clinics officials said reaching an agreement with the LifeCom Center would help continue to ensure that Iowans receive prompt medical helicopter services.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at www.uihealthcare.com.