WATERLOO — University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics helicopters will be on standby at the Waterloo Municipal Airport for patients needing transport from local hospitals to Iowa City, UIHC officials announced Thursday.
Previously, both MercyOne Waterloo and UnityPoint-Allen Hospital had helicopters on standby at their respective helipads.
In September, UIHC and MercyOne in Waterloo announced they were unable to come to an agreement and would no longer have UIHC helicopters based at their helipad. UnityPoint did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“UnityPoint Health medical professionals are aware of changes related to the UIHC air ambulance and will continue to utilize its services when the need arises,” the hospital said in a statement.
The announcement also affects Dubuque, where helicopters will only be based at that city’s airport as well, according to the release.
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AirCare “will continue (to) transport patients to or from all hospitals in those communities and from emergency scenes across the region,” UIHC noted in the release.
UIHC spokesman Tom Moore said in September that AirCare would still utilize the hospitals’ helipads — just that the helicopters would no longer be on standby there.
The release noted “significant weather or other interruptions that prevent the helicopter from landing at the hospital” may mean patients will have to be taken to the airport by ambulance for air transport.
Moore said AirCare pilots estimate the travel time from the airport to UnityPoint-Allen is around five minutes, while the travel time to MercyOne is around six minutes.
The release also noted 11 flight nurses and 10 medics formerly employed by hospitals in Waterloo and Dubuque to fly on AirCare helicopters were hired by UIHC. That included six nurses and five medics from MercyOne, Moore said.