Western Wisconsin

Excellence in medical transport begins in the hangar

Mike Luna, lead mechanic Ministry Spirit Medical Transportation, (MSMT) Marshfield base, has received the 2010 Transport Mechanic’s Award of Excellence from the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).

Established in 1980, the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS) is an international association which serves providers of air and surface medical transport systems. The association, a voluntary non-profit organization, encourages and supports its members in maintaining a standard of performance reflecting safe operations and efficient, high quality patient care.

Luna received the honor for the significant contributions he has made to his program’s safe operations. He was cited as an indispensable team member not only for his expertise as an Air Methods Aviation Site Manager, but also for his skills as a top-notch mechanic, as well as for the strong passion for his job.

According to the AAMS, the annual award is an opportunity to recognize “these unsung heroes who truly keep the rotors turning, turbines spinning and wheels rolling, and they plat a pivotal role in the work medical staff do in taking care of patients.”

His background in aviation came naturally. Growing up, he helped his father, who operated an aviation workshop in Illinois, overhauling airplane engines. While in high school, he worked part-time at Schneck Aviation, and then joined the company full time after receiving his associate degree in aviation maintenance technology from Rock Valley College in Rockford, Ill. He also worked at Technical Air Motive and at Badger Helicopter, before joining Air Methods in 1996 to work at Ministry Spirit Medical Transportation.

“With his personal mantra of safety first, Mike has been unwavering in his commitment to doing things ‘the right way,’ as he puts it,” said Deb Martin, flight/transport RN who nominated him for the award on behalf of the transport staff. “His daily checks reflect his thoroughness and degree of personal immersion in responsibility. In addition, he consistently requests flight crew input in an effort to facilitate complete aircraft and cabin readiness.”

And, she added, during the recent transition from the program’s previous Bell 222 helicopter to a new EC145, he quietly provided the consistent link to safety while various back-up aircraft were utilized.

“The first priority for our transport service is safety for crew and patients,” said Monty Gallegos, MSMT director. “We know with Mike’s expertise, and consistent commitment and dedication, that when the aircraft is declared ready to fly, it is as safe as humanly possible.”

Luna, meanwhile, said he was overwhelmed upon notification of the award. “I never would have expected it, and I would have never been able to receive this award or do my job without Bryon Reissmann, the other mechanic,” he said. “But we’re all a team here--the pilots, medical staff and mechanics. Together, we make this program the best it can be.”

Ministry Health Care’s Spirit Medical Transportation has been providing ground and air transport to the people of central and northern Wisconsin for more than 15 years. MHC Spirit provides services throughout northern and central Wisconsin with bases located at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield, at Ministry Saint Clare’s Hospital in Weston, at Ministry Saint Michael’s Hospital in Stevens Point, Howard Young Medical Center in Woodruff and Ministry Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rhinelander. The program offers services to communities throughout the region to help meet inter-facility and ambulance intercept needs. Spirit aviation services, provided by Air Methods Corp., flies more than 600 missions per year, with the ground ambulance totaling more than 2,800 transports annually.

This is the second national award the program has attained in recent years. Nils Strickland, a pilot with the MSMT, was named 2008 Pilot of the Year by the National EMS Pilots Association.

Swing bed program provides extra care

The swing bed program and rehab help Genevieve Dlugolecki return to an active lifestyle after surgery.

Genevieve Dlugolecki of Gilman had a busy winter. She polished rocks with her granddaughter; she perused thrift sales to find books; and she never missed a parade that included her special friend playing with the Wausau Concertina Club.

Not bad considering that Dlugolecki, a 68-year-old former director of social services at a nursing facility, had an aortic valve replacement just before Memorial Day at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Marshfield.

After suffering from fainting spells and weakness, Dlugolecki was referred to Hope Maki, MD, Marshfield Clinic cardiovascular surgeon in Marshfield. After a successful surgery and discharge, she had two options: a skilled nursing facility or the skilled swing bed / transitional care program at Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Stanley.

The swing bed unit has the high-level staff and equipment close by

“A swing bed is an extended hospital care service for patients who no longer require an in-patient, acute level of care, but whose condition does require some skilled services,” said Cynthia Eichman, Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital president. “The term means that the patient’s status changes, or swings, from an acute level of care to a ‘step-down’ level of care. The goal is to help the patient return home independently or with the help of community resources.”

“Obviously I needed more care, and mentally the swing bed unit was a better fit,” Dlugolecki said. “I’m only 68, and did not feel I am old enough for a nursing home. And in the Swing Bed unit, all the staff and equipment for keeping you alive, like an EKG and oxygen, are close by.” And that proved to be invaluable.

“The second day there I experienced a heart flutter, and the staff was able to complete an EKG within minutes,” Genevieve said. “I would have had to be re-admitted to a hospital at this point had I been in a nursing home. They were able to prevent that and take care of the problem right there.”

The high level of medical supervision and excellent care also impressed Dlugolecki. “The physician assistant, Peter Gintner, sat on my bed each day and talked to me about my condition,” she said. “And the physical and occupational therapies were very intense. I don’t think I would have made it home without them.”

“It was a pleasure to take care of Genevieve. She needed medical management for a number of problems related to her heart valve replacement and her overall medical condition related to her diabetes,” said Gintner. “We were able to treat her irregular heart rhythm and remove the fluid around her lungs that were part of her post surgery management. Through good medical management we also were able to reduce the swelling in her legs and provide her some intensive physical and occupational therapy so she could meet her goal of returning to home independently. I felt it was important to see Genevieve each day so she understood her plan of care, the progress she was making, and the need for her to continue to work hard on her rehabilitation. She was a great patient and I think she will do very well.”

Dlugolecki continued her cardiac rehab at Ministry Our Lady of Victory Hospital. She is grateful for her treatment, both at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital and in Stanley. “The care in Marshfield was excellent, and Stanley is a wonderful local hospital,” she said. “When I was discharged I got the nicest thank you note signed by all of the staff that worked with me, from the medical staff to dietary to housekeeping. It made me feel very special. I was very pleased with my care at Ministry.”

Clinical trials help area heart patients

A healthy heart needs a good blood supply. If there is blockage in the heart arteries, there will be an insufficient blood supply to the heart. This is known as cardiac ischemia.

If the blockage is moderate, then the decrease in blood flow will occur only during exertion, and will result in brief heart pains, called angina. However, if the blockage is severe and prolonged, it may prove more serious, resulting in a heart attack.

“Cardiac ischemia is very common in our cardiology practice,” said Shereif Rezkalla, MD, Marshfield Clinic interventional cardiologist on staff at Ministry Saint Joseph’s Hospital. “There are a number or risk factors involved. Diabetes, smoking and high cholesterol, among others, can be blamed for the arterial blockages that cause cardiac ischemia.”

The good news, however, is that once diagnosed, certain lifestyle changes and new medications appear to have favorable effects in treatment plans not only for painful ischemic episodes, but also on those ischemic episodes not associated with pain. Rezkalla, in fact, was one of the physicians participating in international studies of many medications that have been proven beneficial over the last two decades.

“We first participated in a CURE study with our patients, testing the drug Clopidogrel,” Rezkalla said. “We found that if patients take this medication for one year after a cardiac event such as unstable angina or myocardial infarction, they did better. But we also found that not everyone got the same results, because of genetics and metabolism.”

So Rezkalla joined a second research trial, TIMI 38 that eventually led to the FDA approval of Prasugril. “This drug turned out to be far superior to Clopidogrel,” he said. “It decreased the recurrence of myocardial infarction and acute ischemic events, and may prolong survival.”

A third study will soon be initiated to research yet another compound from the same group of drugs that promises to lead to a third generation medication that may prove even more superior to those currently available.

“At Marshfield, we don’t just follow the most recent advances in treatments, but help shape them,” Rezkalla said. “The driving force in our studies is the group of our outstanding patients in north central Wisconsin who believe in the science and benefits of participating in the latest clinical trials. Without them, we would not make this great progress in treating heart disease.”

For more information on The Marshfield Clinic /Ministry Health Care heart care team, visit www.oneheartcareteam.org.


which is best for your child?

Children should ride in booster seats until they are between 8 and 12 years old, weigh more than 80 pounds, are 4’9” tall ... and can pass this test:

Safety Belt Fit Test

  1. When your child sits all the way back in the seat, do his or her knees bend over the edge of the seat?
  2. Does the lap belt rest over your child’s hips?
  3. Where is the shoulder belt? Does it lay on your child’s shoulder or collar bone and rest across your child’s chest?
  4. Can your child stay in this position comfortably for the entire ride?

If you answered “Yes” to ALL these questions, your child no longer needs a booster seat.

Remember: children under age 13 should sit in the back seat.

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