Privately-contracted helicopters move patients and staff at hospitals crippled by Hurricane Katrina
NASHVILLE, Tenn., Sept 02, 2005 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX/ -- HCA (NYSE: HCA) Twenty
helicopters hired by Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) have completed the
evacuation of patients and staff from Tulane University Hospital and Clinic,
which began four days ago following Hurricane Katrina. The evacuation included
close to 200 patients and over 1,200 employees and staff. HCA leadership,
coordinating with Gov. Blanco's office, has offered the 20 helicopters at its
expense to assist with the evacuation of nearby Charity Hospital's two
facilities, as well as University Medical Center, which are not affiliated
with HCA. As many as 50 Charity Hospital patients, some severely ill and on
ventilators, have already been evacuated by HCA.
The evacuation process has consisted of a constant airlift using
privately-contracted Blackhawk helicopters, Medi-vacs, passenger helicopters,
and, with cooperation from government authorities, Chinook military aircraft.
With each arrival, the helicopters dropped 750 pounds of food, water and
medical supplies, filling the choppers with people for their return runs to
the New Orleans airport, where buses wait ready to transport healthy
individuals to shelter locations in Lafayette. Now the buses are taking
people to HCA's Lakeview Hospital in Covington. Some patients have been
transferred to hospitals in the area, and, in an effort to alleviate the local
burden, others were transported to HCA facilities in Texas and Florida.
HCA has dozens of staff on the ground in New Orleans coordinating
evacuation and relief efforts. Many have been in place since Katrina hit.
Others, flown in on private aircraft from other HCA hospital locations, have
arrived to support nursing and supply efforts in the area. Another 170 nurses
are on stand-by through "All About Staffing", HCA's internally-run temporary
nurse staffing organization. As the Tulane operation begins to wind down, the
20 helicopters the company had hired to assist in evacuating patients and
staff are being maintained at HCA's expense to assist with the evacuations
from Charity's two hospitals. Blackhawk helicopters will be used by HCA to
provide food, water, and medical supplies for Charity Hospital's patients and
staff. Some 150 employees from Chalmette were taken to an HCA-managed
makeshift shelter in Lafayette.
"This situation demands we all do everything we can to help one another.
We have use of these services, so it only makes sense that we keep these
helicopters under contract in the air and provide help to other hospitals as
best we can," said Jack O. Bovender, Jr., Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Earlier this week, HCA announced $2 million in cash donations, half of
which would go to the American Red Cross for relief efforts, the other half to
HCA's Hope Fund, to assist HCA personnel who have lost homes and belongings in
the disaster. The company has pledged to maintain all 3,800 employees in the
area on full salary indefinitely, and to arrange for them to find employment
with other HCA facilities. Three other HCA hospitals in the region have been
affected by the storm: all patients and staff from Lakeside Hospital in
Metairie, Louisiana were evacuated earlier in the week; operations remain
intact at both Garden Park Medical Center, in Gulfport, Mississippi and
Lakeview Regional Medical Center, where evacuated patients and employees from
Tulane are now being sent.
HCA is the nation's leading provider of healthcare services, composed of
locally managed facilities that include approximately 190 hospitals and 90
outpatient surgery centers in 23 states, England and Switzerland. At its
founding in 1968, Nashville-based HCA was one of the nation's first hospital
All references to "Company" and "HCA" as used throughout this document
refer to HCA Inc. and its affiliates
Ed Fishbough, +1-615-344-2810, or Jeff Prescott, +1-615-344-5708, both of HCA