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Columbus air ambulance changes not to impact Butler County

Columbus air ambulance changes not to impact Butler County

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Butler County residents should not anticipate an impact to medical services while the closest air ambulance base changes hands.

An air ambulance service transports patients to and between hospitals.

The air ambulance base at Columbus Community Hospital (CCH) is the one nearest to Butler County Health Care Center (BCHCC), 372 S. Ninth St. in David City.

In the fall, CCH began the process of changing its preferred provider for air medical transport services from Apollo MedFlight LLC to LifeNet, a subsidiary of Air Methods.

Air Methods is a national company, and it coordinates air ambulance services for communities throughout Nebraska.

Air Methods Nebraska Account Executive Kevin Hallam said the LifeNet helicopter's move from its old home in Fremont to CCH should be complete by mid-January.

A Jan. 4 press release from Air Methods said the communities served by the Columbus base will include Columbus, Fremont, Albion, Central City, Schuyler, David City and Aurora.

BCHCC CEO Don Naiberk said the change should not interrupt services in Butler County.

"We've been using (air ambulance) services for quite some time. We use multiple services," Naiberk said.

BCHCC has worked with both Apollo MedFlight and LifeNet in the past and will continue to do so.

"We usually call the one that's the closest and if they're not available because they're out on another transfer then we call the next one," Naiberk said.

Apart from Columbus, Naiberk said BCHCC's air ambulance options are located in Fremont, Hastings and Crete.

"We don't use those services very often in our hospital, probably less than once a month," Naiberk said.

Typically, an air ambulance is used when there is severe or life-threatening trauma that must be treated quickly or requires a high level of care.

Naiberk said BCHCC has also used air ambulance services to transport COVID-19 patients.

CCH Vice President of Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer Dorothy Bybee said CCH will not need to make any significant changes or investments to accommodate the LifeNet helicopter.

Hallam said Fremont will continue to be served by aircraft based in Columbus and Omaha and will have multiple options throughout Nebraska for air medical transport.

Hallam said the air ambulance team will move from Fremont to Columbus along with the airbase. As the airbase leaves Fremont, LifeNet will open a packaging base there to help transfer air ambulance patients to Omaha.

"It'll be a completely seamless transition," Hallam said. "We'll be sitting ready to go sitting on the pad at (CCH) and then Fremont's packaging base will be open exactly that same day."

Molly Hunter is a reporter for The Banner-Press. Reach her via email at molly.hunter@lee.net.

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