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St. Charles

Monday, April 2, 2012

St. Charles to Ground AirLink; Texas Firm will Take Over Medical Flights

Posted By on Mon, Apr 2, 2012 at 6:33 PM

Less than two months after learning that a second helicopter ambulance service was entering the Central Oregon market, St. Charles has announced that it is getting out of the life flight business entirely.

The regional hospital announced Monday that it is closing its AirLink helicopter service and selling the business assets to a Texas-based firm that specializes in medical evacuations.

“This was a difficult decision to make,” said St. Charles Bend CEO Bob Gomes, in a press release Monday. “We have the best critical care team in the region but we feel this is the right thing to do for Central Oregon.”

According to Hospital spokeswoman Lisa Goodman the transaction should be complete by June 15. In the meantime, patients shouldn’t see a disruption in services. The new operator, Med Trans Corp. will take over the AirLink brand and intends to honor the memberships purchased by current AirLink members.

As part of the move, St. Charles will lay off  27 AirLink employees, including 10 registered nurses and 12 respiratory therapists. In Monday's press release, Goodman wrote that the hospital will "make  every effort" to find jobs for the displaced workers at St. Charles.


Read the full release here: 

April 2, 2012
St. Charles closes AirLink; Metro Aviation, Inc. and Med-Trans Corporation to start new air ambulance operations
Bend, Ore.  – A combination of uncontrollable business dynamics has prompted St. Charles Health System to close AirLink Critical Care Transport and sell its air medical assets.
“This was a difficult decision to make,” said Bob Gomes, who is the CEO of St. Charles’ Prineville and Redmond hospitals and oversees AirLink’s operations. “We have the best critical care team in the region but we feel this is the right thing to do for Central Oregon.”
As a result of this closure, 27 St. Charles’ caregivers, including 10 registered nurses, 12 respiratory therapists and five office staff, will be laid off.  Every effort will be made to place these caregivers in other positions at St. Charles.
St. Charles will continue to operate the service until Metro Aviation, Inc. and Med-Trans Corporation begin operations of a new emergency air ambulance service on or before June 15, assuring continuous air medical service to the region. This means the residents of Central Oregon will continue to have life saving air medical services available to them in the time of a medical emergency.  St. Charles has agreed to sell the AirLink name to Metro Aviation for this new air medical service.
“Taking care of patients is St. Charles’ sole focus,” Gomes said. “It makes sense for Metro Aviation, Inc., and Med-Trans Corporation — both leaders in their respective industries — to focus on operating the air ambulance service for pre-hospital critical care in Central Oregon. They’re able to achieve efficiencies that we cannot, making the brand stronger and more competitive into the future.”
As part of its move to close its air ambulance operations, St. Charles will sell its aircraft to Metro Aviation, Inc., which will continue to provide pilots and mechanics. Med-Trans Corporation will provide the qualified clinical flight team, comprised of a registered nurse and paramedic.  Some of the current AirLink team members may be eligible for hire with Med-Trans to staff the new program.
“We are very excited to begin this new chapter in Bend, Ore., providing critical care to patients throughout the region,” said Fred Buttrell, president and chief executive officer of Med-Trans Corporation. “The AirLink brand is synonymous with critical patient care and safe air medical transports, which aligns with our service to St. Charles Health System, area health care professionals and the community.”
Current owners of an AirLink Critical Care Transport membership will have their membership honored by Med-Trans Membership.  With a Med-Trans Membership, members have access to the AirMedCare Network, the largest air medical membership network in the United States with more than 1 million members and 166 aircraft locations throughout 25 states.
NOTE: St. Charles, Med-Trans and Metro Aviation officials will be available for interviews until 1 p.m. today.
About St. Charles Health System
St. Charles Health System, Inc., headquartered in Bend, Ore., owns and operates the St. Charles medical centers in Bend and Redmond, leases and operates Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Prineville and provides management services for Mountain View Hospital in Madras. St. Charles is a private, not-for-profit Oregon corporation and is the largest employer in Central Oregon with more than 3,000 caregivers in Bend, Redmond and Prineville. In addition, there are more than 350 active medical staff members and nearly 200 visiting medical staff members who partner with St. Charles to provide a wide range of care and service to our communities.
About Med-Trans
Med-Trans Corporation, headquartered in Dallas, Texas, is a leading FAA Part 135 operator, providing air ambulance programs throughout the United States. A proven solution to our partners, Med-Trans offers an array of customized air medical program designs including hybrid models, community based models or traditional hospital-based models. The company’s extensive fleet rapidly delivers teams of highly trained professionals to patients, striving to provide the patient with the best possible outcome.  For more information, please visit:
About Metro Aviation
Metro Aviation, Inc. was established in 1982 as a helicopter charter, flight training, and maintenance operation facility. Since then, Metro Aviation, Inc. has grown substantially in size, and is internationally recognized for its excellence in helicopter transportation services. Today, Metro Aviation, Inc. is an FAA certified Airframe Modification, Maintenance, Inspection and Repair center, and is proud to offer traditional services to its valued customers.

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Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Charles Workers Allege Coercion on Eve of Union Vote

Tense labor negotiations at St.

Posted By on Fri, Mar 16, 2012 at 11:32 PM

Tense labor negotiations at St. Charles got a little more prickly on Friday when members of the employee bargaining team and the employee union asked the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to investigate allegations that the hospital administration has interfered with an upcoming unionization vote.

Workers who last year formed a union but have been unable to reach a contract with St. Charles accuse the hospital of “repeated illegal and coercive tactics” on the eve of a vote to potentially decertify the union. That vote, which was called for by a group of workers who opposed unionization was supposed to take place next Wednesday.

The union has asked that the vote be delayed while NLRB looks into the workers' accusations.

The hospital’s so-called service workers, including janitorial staff, certified nursing assistants, pharmacy and food service workers, number roughly 600 employees. They voted last year to form a union over concerns about staffing levels and outsourcing, among other issues. However, the failure to reach a contract with the hospital opened the door for a decertification vote, which hospital administrators have advocated. According to a press release from SEIU Local 49, which represents the employees in the negotiations, has filed six charges with NLRB, alleging the hospital illegally conducted surveillance on staff, coerced employees and terminated staff for union activity, among things.

St. Charles administrators denied the allegations and said they plan to defend the hospitals actions before the NLRB.

“We have spent the past year bargaining in good faith with the SEIU and have done nothing but act in the best interest of our patients and our caregivers,” said Jay Henry, St. Charles Bend's CEO. “We find it unfortunate that the SEIU has chosen to not only take this action, but that they have made this private issue a community matter and have inconvenienced our patients as they seek treatment at our facility.

Henry said, in a press release, that the hospital is opposed to delaying the decertification vote.


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