lutheran-airTo further expand patient access to critical and specialty care, a third Lutheran Air helicopter is being added to Lutheran Hospital’s critical care transports fleet.  Beginning Thursday, the home base for Lutheran Air III will be Starke County Airport in Knox.  The helicopter will go into service at 7:30 a.m. CST.

The Lutheran Air III crew will be stationed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year in a new 1,500 square-foot office and its adjoining hanger at the airport.  Like the other aircraft in the Lutheran fleet, Lutheran Air III will be an EC 135.  Its addition has led to the creation of 16 new positions on Lutheran’s critical care transport team, including pilots, flight mechanics and medical crew members. Several of the new positions were filled by professionals from the Starke County area.

“Increasing access to Lutheran Air and Lutheran EMS units that are locate across the region is advantageous because minute matter,” said Kirk Ray, chief executive officer, Kosciusko Community Hospital.  “This new medical helicopter in Knox enhances our ability to quickly and appropriately respond to patients’ emergency care needs.”

The arrival of Lutheran Air III in northwestern Indiana will provide patients, hospitals and first responders with greater access to the lifesaving care a medical helicopter and its crew can facilitate.  In addition to Lutheran Health Network member KCH, hospitals included in that list of beneficiaries are Lutheran’s other sister facilities in Indiana: Starke Hospital in Knox, LaPorte Hospital and Porter Regional Hospital in Valparaiso.

“We are very pleased to see this project come to fruition, and to have the investment of a leading-edge critical care transport service right here in our community,” said Jeff Vice, interim CEO of Starke Hospital and COO of LaPorte Hospital.  “Being able to connect Starke and its surrounding counties to highly advanced medical care is part of our mission to improve the health of our patients and the region.  We are now able to provide faster access to critical services like heart and kidney transplant programs, major trauma centers and more.”