Fast Facts About ECMO Air Transport on Helicopter

Suzanne Bennett, MD, is a UC Health anesthesiologist and associate professor of anesthesiology and critical care medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. She shares her insight on how UC Health is advancing healing and reducing suffering in our communities by providing world-class care with our ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) program.

UC Health has been a source of hope with its ECMO program. What is ECMO?

Dr. Bennett: ECMO is short-term life support for patients with failing heart, lungs, or both. It is a machine that, in one sense, replaces the function of the heart and lungs for patients suffering from the most critical conditions.

ECMO does not necessarily save lives — it helps gives physicians time so they can provide the necessary treatment to a disease or injury to save lives.

Given the advancements with ECMO technology, it has improved survival for many critically ill patients at UC Health and is especially useful for when patients are not responding to typical life support equipment.

UC Health became the first hospital in the region to launch ECMO transport on helicopter. What does this mean for the region?

Dr. Bennett: Becoming the first hospital in southern Ohio to launch adult ECMO air transport provides the timely response of an ECMO trained team of experts and allocation of necessary resources to patients and health care teams within a 200-mile radius.

The development of this program is a naturally progression for our first in the state of Ohio adult ECMO ground transport team. Broadening our efforts to include adult ECMO air transport will afford us the ability to both expeditiously respond to hospitals in our region and beyond during their patients’ most difficult times of their life and then safely and efficiently transport them to our regional academic ECMO center.

Critical care continues creating new programs. Why is it so important to continue pushing the envelope with innovations?  

Dr. Bennett: Critical care at UC Health continues to push the envelope in innovations through the early development and adoption of several new and unique to our region multidisciplinary programs.

  • We are proud to be the first hospital in Greater Cincinnati to implement a systemwide adoption of the American Heart Association Resuscitation Quality Improvement program.
  • We are one of the first 500 out of 5,400 acute care hospitals in the nation to implement this AHA RQI program.
  • We offer 24/7 in-house critical care coverage by attending physicians and nurse practitioners, who are experts in cardiac, anesthesiology, neurology and emergency medicine, pulmonary, trauma, surgical and neonatal critical care.
  • UC health critical care has developed the region’s first formalized pulmonary embolism response team, which provides patients in our region suffering from an acute pulmonary embolism access to a multidisciplinary team of experts focused on the care of this life-threatening condition.
  • With the combination of the development of an eCPR program, advanced therapy programs, STEMI/Shock response teams and having the only adult heart transplant program in the region, we are transforming heart care in the region. UC Health provides the patients in our community with the opportunity to receive all of their heart care needs at UC Health without ever leaving the region.

UC Health critical care continues to lead the region with our expertise and efforts focused on the delivery of innovative, safe, excellent, quality care to the patients and families in our region.

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