WOODRUFF – Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport will discontinue service of the Spirit 2 Helicopter based at Howard Young Medical Center, part of Ascension, by the end of 2020 in Woodruff and an operational agreement at the end of August for Spirit 3, a fixed wing aircraft based at Lakeland Airport/Noble F. Lee Memorial Field in Arbor Vitae, Ascension announced this week. 

These adjustments will allow Spirit to efficiently continue comprehensive medical transport services for the benefit of patients and communities served in the region, Ascension said in a news release.

“There are many changing dynamics in the delivery of healthcare services in the region that  created the need for these difficult decisions,” said Stewart Watson, M.D., Vice President-Clinical, North Region, Ascension Wisconsin, in a news release. 

Watson says those dynamics include the current landscape of medical transportation services available in central and northern Wisconsin, the ongoing realignment of healthcare facilities in the region and patient volumes. Spirit conducted an extensive review of its operations that focused on past, present and predicted patient volumes and transportation needs. 

“Our review concluded that our air medical transport needs would be best met with a single helicopter strategically placed at the Central Wisconsin Airport at Mosinee,” Watson said in the release.  

Spirit will still maintain a critical care ground base and resources for transport out of Woodruff from Howard Young Medical Center. Additional Spirit ground bases are located in Rhinelander, Weston and Stevens Point. 

“The response time with Spirit 1 from CWA to the Northwoods is consistent with the average time to diagnose and stabilize most patients in the emergency room prior to being ready to transport,” Ted Ryan, Director, Ascension Wisconsin Spirit Medical Transport, said in the release. “We will leverage the full resources of our dispatch center and the talents of our dedicated associates to continue to manage our patient transport needs safely and effectively.”

Efforts will be made to transition affected Spirit associates into current open positions within Ascension Wisconsin that fall within their qualifications, Ascension said.

Spirit transports about 4,800 patients annually via ground and air across the region and holds the medical transport industry’s highest level of accreditation from The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems.