Privately-contracted helicopters move patients and staff at hospitals crippled by Hurricane Katrina
Public Company Information:
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 of HCA.
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 companies.
All references to "Company" and "HCA" as used throughout this document refer to HCA Inc. and its affiliates
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Ed Fishbough, +1-615-344-2810, or
Jeff Prescott, +1-615-344-5708,
both of HCA