STARS inks 10-year deal with Alberta Health Services

STARS inks 10-year deal with Alberta Health Services 4 May, 10, Source: Alberta Health Services

The Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) base in Grande Prairie will receive provincial funding for the first time in its history as part of a new agreement between Alberta Health Services and STARS.

The new agreement, formally announced by Health and Wellness Minister Gene Zwozdesky in Grande Prairie today, commits to long term partial funding for the Grande Prairie base as well as continued partial funding for the bases in Calgary and Edmonton.

“Since opening the Grande Prairie base in 2006, many lives have been saved because of STARS’ ability to provide a timely response throughout the northern region of our province,” says Minister of Health and Wellness Gene Zwozdesky. “The strategic geographical location of this base has a direct impact on successful patient outcomes and STARS is doing a great job in that regard.”

In the new funding model, Alberta Health Services will support STARS with $5.488 million annually over each of the next 10 years. Approximately 25 per cent of STARS total mission costs is funded by Alberta Health Services and the remaining 75 per cent from STARS fundraising and community partnerships. STARS total operating expenses in 2009 were approximately $27 million of which $23.7 million were mission operations.

On April 1, 2010, Alberta Health Services assumed responsibility for ensuring air ambulance services are available across the province. In addition to STARS, which provides dedicated rotary air ambulance through the affiliation agreement, fixed wing air ambulance services will continue to be conducted by 12 providers contracted by Alberta Health Services.

“Equitable access to high quality care for rural Albertans is a strategic priority for Alberta Health Services, and STARS plays an integral role in providing that care,” says Ken Hughes, Alberta Health Services Board Chair. “The integration of ground and air ambulance within the provincewide health delivery system makes this kind of coordinated care and training possible, and is a great illustration of the quality, access and sustainability improvements now within our reach.”

As part of the renewed partnership going forward, STARS will also facilitate a critical care transport medicine education program for all air medical personnel (fixed wing and rotary). This will provide consistent training and equitable education opportunities. STARS will also assume the role of coordinating the movement of critically ill patients from rural hospitals to larger centres.

“Working together toward the common goal of providing a seamless emergency care system provides Albertans with the right resource at the right place at the right time,” says Dr. Greg Powell, president and chief executive officer, STARS. “Today’s announcement heralds the beginning of an enhanced system that addresses the needs of people in rural Alberta to receive timely and sophisticated emergency care.”

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than 3.7 million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.

STARS is a well recognized leader in critical patient care, rapid transportation, and emergency medical training and education. The unique model of community, corporate and government support allows continued innovations that provide excellence in patient care.

Six fundamental commitments are outlined in the Agreement including:

  1. Rural Red Patient Referral Process For All Inter-Facility Transfers – STARS will assume the role of coordinating care and transport of rural critically ill patients from sending- hospitals to larger centres.
  2. Medical Oversight for Air Ambulances – STARS will provide a provincial Air Ambulance Medical Director who will work closely with the Alberta Health Services EMS Senior Medical Director and the EMS Medical Director Team.
  3. Term, Bases – The 10-year Agreement includes a commitment to continued partial funding of STARS’ bases in Calgary and Edmonton, and extends partial funding to the Grande Prairie base.
  4. Medical Education – STARS will facilitate a critical care transport medicine education program for all air medical providers (fixed wing and rotary) providing consistent training and equitable education opportunities for all.
  5. Helipad Infrastructure – STARS will participate in Alberta Health Services Helipad Sub-committee to assist in the management of helipads.
  6. Public Trust – STARS and Alberta Health Services will collaborate and work  together to create and maintain public and health system awareness of the referral process for rural Red Patients requiring transport.

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