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STrong partnerships bolster patient outcomes

A new partnership between STARS and Missinippi Airways is bolstering critical care for vulnerable patients in remote Northern communities.

Last spring, STARS partnered with Missinippi Airways, one of a number of basic air ambulance operators providing services from northern locations in Manitoba, to offer online medical guidance for Missinippi medical crew members as they treat and transport sick and injured patients in northern communities.

“The partnership with STARS has helped to ensure there is continuity of service for the people in Northern Manitoba and provides the level of care the communities need,” said Dr. Marie Noel, a physician based in The Pas who has served as medical director for Missinippi Airways’ medevac division since 2006.

In these challenging times, Missinippi recognized the need for additional support for Dr. Noel, who previously undertook these duties single-handedly.

Recently the two organizations came together to save a life when responding to a hemorrhaging patient. Missinippi Airways provided rapid transportation for the patient while STARS supplied blood needed for a transfusion.

In another case, a patient needed immediate respiratory support in a remote community that didn’t have the necessary equipment or staff to perform an intubation. STARS was able to utilize a nearby Missinippi aircraft to transport an anesthetist to the remote community to intubate the patient while completing the advanced level medevac to a tertiary care centre.

More than a quarter of Manitoba’s population live in rural areas, with nearly 10 per cent residing more than four hours from specialized care. The geographical location puts these communities at a higher risk of achieving worse health outcomes, but geography is not the only factor.

“Many of the patients have a high medical acuity and require urgent care in a tertiary centre or are required to leave their home to isolate in an alternate setting,” said Dr. Noel. The outcomes for these patients can be greatly improved with rapid transport and advanced critical care.

Dr. Doug Martin, an emergency physician and medical director for the STARS base in Winnipeg, has also seen first-hand how this partnership benefits rural and remote communities.

“It’s a union of resources and speed,” said Dr. Martin. “Working together with Missinippi, we aim to improve overall system access for northern patients.”

Dr. Martin notes that the pandemic has further highlighted the need for an advanced level of care in remote communities. For STARS, this partnership with Missinippi Airways is another way to help provide the best critical care possible for communities across the province.