Media Contact: Ian Demsky

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System and the University of Michigan Health System team up to coordinate emergency air medical services

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) today announced that it will transition its use of emergency medical helicopters to the University of Michigan Health System’s (UMHS) air ambulance medical transportation program, Survival Flight.

Survival Flight will expand its service to include patient transports between the seven hospitals of Saint Joseph Mercy Health System in southeast Michigan and other locations; the Saint Joseph Mercy Midwest Medflight program will close. The leadership teams of both institutions have made a commitment that the change in service coverage will have no effect on transport times or quality of care.

For more than 25 years, the UMHS Survival Flight air ambulance program has safely transported tens of thousands of critically ill and injured patients of all ages from hospitals and accident sites across the state to the U-M Health System and other hospitals for specialized care, as well as aiding in rescue operations and transporting teams involved in organ donations.

“The University of Michigan and Saint Joseph Mercy Health System have been working together in many areas to evaluate opportunities for collaboration,” said Rob Casalou, president and chief executive officer of St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor, Livingston and Saline. “This agreement eliminates an unnecessary duplication of two hospital-based air ambulance services located within five miles of each other. It allows us to partner with a fellow health care system to help contain the cost of high end services in this era of health reform while maintaining focus on our collective community needs,” says Casalou.

Saint Joseph Mercy Health System started Midwest Medflight in 1986 and Survival Flight launched in 1983. Over the years, the two air ambulance programs have grown to provide hospital transport coverage for most of the hospitals in southeast Michigan. With this new partnership, Saint Joseph Mercy Health System will become a primary client of Survival Flight as a preferred facility for Level II trauma cases and hospital-to-hospital patient transports.

“Whenever time is of the essence, we stand ready to fly all patients to the hospital where they can get the advanced care they need,” says Tony Denton, chief operating officer of the U-M Hospitals and Health Centers, and executive director of University Hospitals at the U-M Health System. “We look forward to strong cooperation in air medical services, and beyond.”

Survival Flight helicopters are essentially mobile trauma centers and intensive care units, complete with state-of-the-art lifesaving technology and the latest navigational equipment that allow them to fly safely in all types of weather situations.

Survival Flight flies over 160,000 miles each year. Its three Bell 430 helicopters serve an area of approximately 200 miles in all directions around Ann Arbor. For more distant destinations in Michigan, the United States, Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean, Survival Flight uses its Cessna Citation fixed-wing aircraft.

St. Joseph Mercy Ann Arbor is a 537-bed tertiary facility with a Level II Trauma Center, verified as such by the Verification Review Committee (VRC), an ad hoc committee of the Committee on Trauma (COT) of the American College of Surgeons (ACS).

The U-M Health System offers 865 beds across three hospitals with tertiary and quaternary care including an ACS-verified Level I Pediatric and Adult Trauma Center and a Burn Center. Level I trauma centers serve as a resource to all hospitals caring for injured patients in their region. Verification as a burn center and Level I trauma center is a prestigious accomplishment that U-M is proud to have maintained since its first review.

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About Saint Joseph Mercy Health System
Saint Joseph Mercy Health System (SJMHS) is a health care organization serving six counties in southeast Michigan including Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, St. Clair, Washtenaw and Wayne. It includes 537-bed St. Joseph Mercy in Ann Arbor, 443-bed St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac, 304-bed St. Mary Mercy in Livonia, 136-bed St. Joseph Mercy Livingston in Howell, 119-bed St. Joseph Mercy Port Huron and 113-bed Chelsea Community Hospital and St. Joseph Mercy Saline. Combined, the six hospitals are licensed for 1,726 beds, have five outpatient health centers, four urgent care facilities, more than 25 specialty centers; employ more than 14,000 individuals and have a medical staff of nearly 2,700 physicians.

A member of Trinity Health, the nation’s fourth largest Catholic health care organization, SJMHS is committed improving the health of its communities by reinvesting its profits back into the community through new technologies, vital health services, and access for all. The hospitals of SJMHS provide approximately $100 million in community benefit to the communities it serves each year.

For more information on health services offered at Saint Joseph Mercy Health System, please visit

About University of Michigan Health System
The University of Michigan Health System (UMHS) is a premier, highly ranked academic medical center and award-winning health care system with state-of-the-art facilities and more than 22,000 faculty and staff involved in patient care, education and research. It includes University Hospital, C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, Von Voigtlander Women’s Hospital, and more than 40 clinical locations throughout Michigan and Northern Ohio. Each year UMHS serves patients through more than 45,000 inpatient hospital stays and 1.8 million outpatient visits and operations. UMHS also includes the U-M Medical School, with its Faculty Group Practice and one of the nation’s largest biomedical research and education communities.

For more information on health services offered at UMHS, please visit

About the U-M Survival Flight team
The Survival Flight team includes 20 full-time RNs and nine communication specialists. Aviation services and operational control are provided by Pentastar Aviation, based in Oakland County. There are 10 helicopter and eight fixed-wing pilots dedicated to the U-M team, as well as eight full-time mechanics.

For more information about Survival Flight, please visit:

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Survival Flight by the Numbers

Fiscal Year 2010 (July 1, 2009 to June 30, 2010)

Total trips: 1,402

Rotor-wing flights: 898
Fixed-wing flights: 162
Ambulance ground transport: 267
Non-ambulance ground transport: 75
First 11 months of Fiscal Year 2011 (July 1, 2010 to May 30, 2011)

Total trips: 1,171

Rotor wing flights: 778
Fixed-wing flights: 137
Ambulance ground transport: 193
Non-ambulance ground transport: 63

Note: Figures include patient transports between hospitals and from injury scenes as well as organ procurement.

In FY 2010, Survival Flight transported:

-119 livers
-58 hearts
-50 lungs or pairs of lungs
-23 kidneys or pairs of kidneys
-12 pancreases

In the first 11 months of FY 2011, Survival Flight transported:

-75 livers
-37 hearts
-23 lungs or pairs of lungs
-14 kidneys or pairs of kidneys
-7 pancreases

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