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2022 Healthcare Hero: Hartford Hospital LIFE STAR

Winner Category: First Responder Team Leaders: Patricia Margarido, Lauri Bolton, Heather Standish Return to honoree page
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LIFE STAR provides critical care transport for anyone who needs it, in their most vulnerable time. The organization brings life-saving care to those in need, or transports critically ill patients to the most appropriate clinical setting.

LIFE STAR utilizes three aircraft located in Connecticut and western Massachusetts and provides the highest level of care while transporting more than 1,200 patients annually, saving tens of thousands of patients since the program began almost 40 years ago.

What have been the team’s most significant contributions to the organization?

We were so proud to be the first to transport a COVID-positive patient receiving ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation) therapy by helicopter.

At the time, we didn’t know what we were dealing with and many systems were too scared to do this. But we knew we had to help.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, we developed an infection-control plan for safe transport of patients with COVID. We were able to refine these and eventually we assisted in New York early in the pandemic when a local hospital’s oxygen system was overwhelmed, transporting a COVID-positive patient upstate to alleviate the strain.

Despite the added complexity and stress, we were able to remain focused, continue with quality management and training and stay engaged with the community by participating in outreach and fundraising to support their health.

What are some major challenges the organization had to overcome?

Like everywhere, staffing was challenging because of COVID exposure and illness. By being flexible, we adjusted work times, worked overtime and changed locations with minimal notice. We worked to increase staff levels to provide a larger pool of providers. We also performed weekly wellness checks to help stay informed and mitigate burnout.

What’s the organization’s next major goal?

We are always striving to do more — and to improve the way we deliver care. We are constantly researching best practices so that we do the right thing in the right place at the right time. We are highly focused on education and have just joined forces with our maternal health team to ensure that we are sharing knowledge when we are out and about.

We are focused on maintaining our excellent level of patient care, collaborating with our partners and adopting innovation now and into the future.

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