Frontier Former Editor

February 17, 2008

Hospital medevac and airspace denial – who’da thunk it?

One of the hospitals in my general area of residence has just decided that it should be the arbiter of airspace in my region.


Thanks to the good folks at Mountain States Health Alliance (motto: ‘The only good competing emergency medical helicopter service is a non-flying one’) has decided that only one private emergency medical helicopter – the service it contracts with – is more than sufficient to provide air medevac services for a remote mountain area whose road access to a major trauma center is more than an hour. Read more here . . .

The Wise County Board of Supervisors could decide soon whether to approve a resolution that would allow Wellmont Health System to operate a medical flight service in the area.

Mountain States Health Alliance, Wellmont’s nearest competitor, is opposed to the plan.

The Code of Virginia requires local governmental approval for any emergency medical services organization operating in a locality.

Wellmont officials want to use a Wellmont medevac helicopter from Northeast Tennessee to transport Southwest Virginia patients, often to its facilities in Tennessee.

Ron Prewitt, senior vice president of business development for Wellmont, told supervisors during a Thursday work session that Wellmont One – based in Greene County, Tenn. – would be able to take patients in severe medical need or those suffering from serious trauma to various Wellmont hospitals in the region. It would be a fast transport from the Wellmont primary-care hospitals in Lee County, Norton and Wise County in Virginia to facilities in Kingsport or Bristol.

Mountain States Health Alliance officials cried foul and asked the supervisors to deny Wellmont’s resolution request.

MSHA representatives and workers with the company’s Wings Air Rescue, based just outside of Wise County in Jenkins, Ky., said they do just fine providing medevac service in the county.

MSHA has Norton Community Hospital and Dickenson Community Hospital in its alliance.

While the relationship between Mountain States Health Alliance and its longtime hospital/health care rival Wellmont Health Systems can be likened to two vampires fighting over a used Band-Aid, it still strikes me as odd that the owner of one hospital in our immediate community has decided that it deserves air superiority over the owner of two hospitals in the same immediate area.

 I think I see a mobile radar and several surface-to-air missile transporters on the highway nearby . . .



  1. Fucking A! Somebody on the BOS just got a bulging envelope stuffed into his JC Penney sport coat pocket. This is not the kind of inclusive cooperation that has made Wise County’s health care the envy of Whitesburg.

    No offense, FFE, but the closest hospitals to which I’d trust my life would be in either Pikeville or, preferrably, Johnson City. I’d rather not wait for that one medi-vac unit to get back, thank you very much.

    Comment by Soylent Ape — February 18, 2008 @ 9:37 pm

  2. And you get my point Soy – the more helos to get my dying ass away from the local medical care, the better!

    Comment by Frontier Former Editor — February 18, 2008 @ 11:01 pm

  3. It’s a downright shame that there isn’t more human suffering in the area so that these poor corporations didn’t have to fight over those trauma (kaching!) patients.

    Reminds me of the Monty P bit where they turn on the machine that goes ((PING)) to impress the Administrator.

    If this keeps up they will need to hire Mercs to get out there and create new ‘customers’.

    Comment by homo escapeons — February 21, 2008 @ 3:47 pm

  4. Well, we need to be calling Med Flight first since our tax money is paying for them and then we can talk about the paid services. Why would we tell someone they couldn’t come over here. When I get hurt, for the love of God take me to a Trauma Center the quickest way possible!!!

    Comment by Jessica — March 8, 2008 @ 5:50 pm

  5. HEY DOUCHE BAG, I am a pilot on Wings X. We have six aircraft total and Wellmont just bought one which makes a total of seven, someone needs to get some facts straight before you puke out the mouth like this…. and just to wonder how stupid shit like this gets started…Thanks for nothing assbag!
    *your daddy*

    Comment by Lt. Matt Hughes — May 29, 2008 @ 12:12 am

  6. And thanks for leaving a way to respond, Lt. Matt. I think the issue is MSHA vs. Wellmont in their never-ending quest to create a monopoly and that quest spilling over into Wise County. I don’t think I’ve questioned Wings Air Rescue’s motives, commitment to patient care, or quality of service. If you want to raise such questions, please feel free.

    Personally, I’m glad that Wings has six helos, although that tidbit seems not to have made it in the local papers that I’ve seen. Whether those helos would all be available for a major Wise County medevac crisis is another issue of logisitics, however. I’m glad that Wellmont has a helo too. What it comes down to is that MSHA is trying to deny Wellmont the same internal fast-transport capability for its SWVA facilities that MSHA now enjoys.

    And if I’m a douchebag for pointing out that issue, then thank you for your humanitarian spirit. And, if I have to go to a Wellmont facility over here and get transferred to a critical care facility, pass on my thanks to MSHA for making possible either the ambulance ride or the wait for a Virginia State Police helo.

    Recommendation: If I were you, I’d do my level best to stay from between MSHA and Wellmont in their quest for market superiority. It hasn’t been pretty in Tennessee and it doesn’t look that great in southwest Virginia.

    Comment by Former Frontier Editor — May 29, 2008 @ 6:39 am

  7. […] — Frontier Former Editor @ 7:06 am Just before this spring, I made a few observations on corporate healthcare and air superiority in southwest […]

    Pingback by More on healthcare aviation in Southwest Virginia « Frontier Former Editor — May 29, 2008 @ 7:06 am

  8. Yeah, I think it’s the best when it’s used to rescue the people from hazards.

    Comment by Medevac — May 26, 2009 @ 3:23 am

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