In April, The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced a multimillion-dollar effort to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and to protect the frontline healthcare workers caring for them. The grant funded the purchase of 11 LUCAS mechanical chest compression devices for CHI St. Alexius Health located in Bismarck, Garrison, Turtle Lake, Carrington, Dickinson, and Williston.
A total of $4,711,481 in funding will be distributed across five upper-midwestern states to pay for 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices to be deployed to hospitals caring for patients during the pandemic and beyond.
“These devices are vital because we don’t want frontline healthcare workers to choose between trying to save a patient or risking exposure to themselves and others to the Coronavirus,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “LUCAS has been a proven, effective tool in saving lives during cardiac arrest, and having more of them available during this pandemic will save even more lives, including those of the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.”
Research has shown cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 COVID-19 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress. Among patients who recover, many could have long-term effects from such heart damage.
“The health, wellbeing and safety of our patients, associates, and the communities we serve has always been, and continues to be, our utmost priority,” said Dr. Lisa Laurent, Chief Medical Officer, CHI St. Alexius Health Bismarck. “The LUCAS devices will greatly assist us in providing life-saving measures for any patient or individual within our facilities who experiences a cardiac event, while also keeping our medical staff safe.”
The rise in cardiac complications caused by COVID-19 exposes both patients and healthcare workers to greater risk, as hands-on CPR can be needed for extended periods and personal protective equipment can become less effective in keeping the virus from spreading to medical providers.
Mechanical CPR has been adopted by emergency medical responders and many hospitals around the globe, initially due to its ability to deliver extended CPR in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines. Multiple studies have demonstrated equivalence to high-performance CPR, as well as increased provider safety and higher rates of adequate compressions for patients in transport situations. Recently, the Department of Defense COVID-19 Practice Management Guide identified the LUCAS chest compression system as the best practice for managing patients in cardiac arrest to reduce the risk of exposure to care providers.
The Helmsley Charitable Trust is partnering with medical facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska to ensure the devices are in place before the peak of COVID-19 hits. The devices will remain in place after the pandemic as part of the hospitals’ cardiac system of care.
“We were able to go from concept to delivery of the devices in two weeks, and that’s been an incredible effort of teamwork with the manufacturer and the hospitals to get them in place ahead of the peak needs,” said Panzirer. “It’s wonderful to see competing entities working together during a national crisis for the good of all.”
About the LUCAS® Cardiac Care Project
Since 2015, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has given nearly $33 million in grants to help hospitals and first responders in seven upper-midwestern states purchase over 2,400 LUCAS devices, which improve survivability in sudden cardiac arrest victims. The LUCAS® Chest Compression System (LUCAS®) delivers consistent, reliable and uninterrupted chest compressions which allows healthcare providers to concentrate on other equally important aspects of patient care; providing patients with the best opportunity of survival. The LUCAS® device virtually frees up one healthcare worker to perform other essential tasks.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2.6 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $452 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa, and Montana.
For more information, visit www.helmsleytrust.org.
About CHI St. Alexius Health
CHI St. Alexius Health is a regional health network with a unified mission: nurturing the healing ministry of the Church while creating healthier communities. With a tertiary hospital in Bismarck, the system also consists of critical access hospitals (CAHs) in Carrington, Dickinson, Devils Lake, Garrison, Turtle Lake, Washburn and Williston and numerous clinics and outpatient services. CHI St. Alexius Health manages four CAHs in North Dakota - Elgin, Linton, and Wishek, as well as Mobridge Regional Medical Center in Mobridge, S.D. CHI St. Alexius Health is part of CommonSpirit Health, a nonprofit, Catholic health system dedicated to advancing health for all people. It was created in February 2019 through the alignment of Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health. CommonSpirit Health is committed to creating healthier communities, delivering exceptional patient care, and ensuring every person has access to quality health care. With its national office in Chicago and a team of approximately 150,000 employees and 25,000 physicians and advanced practice clinicians, CommonSpirit Health operates 142 hospitals and more than 700 care sites across 21 states. In FY 2018, Catholic Health Initiatives and Dignity Health had combined revenues of $29.2 billion and provided $4.2 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed government programs.