UC Health adds new Air Care base in Walton

WALTON, Ky. -- In a medical emergency, each minute that passes could worsen the outcome. 

Now, UC Health has a new Northern Kentucky air base for its Air Care helicopter in Walton that will help patients get emergency care faster. It joins UC Health's existing air bases in Hamilton and Mount Orab, Ohio.

Members of the community had a chance to tour the facility Wednesday, and learn about how the inside of an Air Care helicopter is like a smaller version of an ICU or hospital emergency department. 

"The patients that are really going to benefit from a critical care helicopter are the ones that are far from a trauma center or a heart center or a stroke center, not the ones that are right there in Clifton or Downtown," said Dr. Bill Hinckley.

Hinckley is an Air Care flight physician and the medical director of Air Care. He said UC Health is one of just a few medical centers in the U.S. that provides a high level of care on every flight.

"There are 300 flight programs, and we are one of only five that have either a physician or an acute care nurse practitioner on every flight," Hinckley said.

Juanita Mayfield experienced that type of care firsthand when a tree fell on her in May 2017. She said it's comforting to have an Air Care base in her hometown. 

"It makes me feel wonderful and safe, knowing that they are so close if something like this was to ever happen to anyone again, that they are able to be there that quickly," Mayfield said.

The feeling was mutual for Art Green. He had to use Air Care on Thanksgiving 2008 when he fell off of his horse and it stepped on him. 

"They landed the aircraft right over in the back of my barn and they loaded me up in a helicopter, and in six minutes I was at UC," he said.

Hinckley said the Air Care flight program is unique in some of the medical issues it has handled.

"A lot of people think that helicopter EMS is mostly about quickly transporting a patient to definitive care, and there is certainly truth to that," he said. "But just as important, if not more so, is the fact that we work so hard to bring definitive care to the patient."

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