BROOKINGS – Brookings Health System will receive a new LUCAS mechanical chest compression device thanks to the multimillion-dollar effort made by the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and protect the frontline healthcare workers caring for them.
“By automatically performing CPR on a patient, the LUCAS device allows one less healthcare worker to potentially be exposed to COVID-19,” Medical, Surgical and Emergency Department Director Karen Weber said. “We thank the Helmsley Charitable Trust for giving us such a useful tool to help combat COVID-19 locally in our community. It will work alongside our other two LUCAS devices to provide critical care as safely as possible.”
Research has shown cardiac damage in as many as one in five COVID-19 patients, leading to heart failure and death even among those who show no signs of respiratory distress. Among patients who recover, many could have long-term effects from such heart damage.
“These devices are vital because we don’t want frontline health care workers to choose between trying to save a patient or risking exposure to themselves and others to the coronavirus,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “LUCAS has been a proven, effective tool in saving lives during cardiac arrest, and having more of them available during this pandemic will save even more lives, including those of the doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers.”
The rise in cardiac complications caused by COVID-19 exposes both patients and healthcare workers to greater risk. When hands-on CPR is performed for long periods, personal protective equipment can be less effective in keeping the virus from spreading to medical providers.
Emergency medical responders and many hospitals around the globe have adopted mechanical CPR due to its ability to deliver extended CPR in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines. Multiple studies have demonstrated equivalence to high-performance CPR, as well as increased provider safety and higher rates of adequate compressions for patients in transport situations. Recently, the Department of Defense COVID-19 Practice Management Guide identified the LUCAS chest compression system as the best practice for managing patients in cardiac arrest to reduce the risk of exposure to care providers.
The Helmsley Charitable Trust is partnering with medical facilities in South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, and Nebraska to ensure the devices are in place before the peak of COVID-19 hits. The devices will remain in place after the pandemic as part of the hospitals’ cardiac system of care.
“We were able to go from concept to delivery of the devices in two weeks, and that’s been an incredible effort of teamwork with the manufacturer and the hospitals to get them in place ahead of the peak needs,” said Panzirer. “It’s wonderful to see competing entities working together during a national crisis for the good of all.”
The public can learn more about COVID-19 and what is being done locally by healthcare providers at brookingshealth.org/COVID.