A charitable trust established by New York real estate magnates has helped to fund the purchase of three mechanical chest compression devices that could help protect front-line health care workers in Hastings from exposure to the novel coronavirus.

In a news release issued through Mary Lanning Healthcare, the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced it had helped to buy the LUCAS devices for the hospital.

The trust said grants totaling more than $4.7 million were distributed across five states in the Upper Midwest as part of an effort to save lives from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, while protecting medical personnel.

“These devices are vital because we don’t want front-line 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.”

According to the Helmsley trust, research has shown cardiac damage in as many as one in five COVID-19 patients, and that the damage could lead 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.

Eric Barber, president and CEO of Mary Lanning Healthcare, said the Helmsley grant was a boon to the independent, nonprofit health care organization.

“Mary Lanning Healthcare is fortunate to receive three LUCAS devices,” he said. “We are grateful for their support and inspired by their contribution to so many healthcare facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

According to the news release, mechanical cardiopulmonary resuscitation eliminates the need for “hands-on CPR,” which sometimes is needed for extended periods of time with patients in cardiac arrest and could place medical personnel at risk of prolonged exposure to a patient with the viral infection.

“Mechanical CPR has been adopted by emergency medical responders and many hospitals around the globe, initially due to its ability to deliver extended CPR in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines,” the Helmsley trust said in the news release. “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.”

The LUCAS chest compression system has been identified by the U.S. Department of Defense COVID-19 Practice Management Guide as the best practice for managing patients in cardiac arrest to reduce the risk of exposure to care providers, the trust said.

The Helmsley grants are going to medical facilities in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming. The devices are to remain with the recipient hospitals even after the pandemic is over, to be used in cardiac 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,” Panzirer said. “It’s wonderful to see competing entities working together during a national crisis for the good of all.”

Since 2015, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has given nearly $33 million in grants to help hospitals and first responders in seven Upper Midwest states purchase over 2,400 LUCAS devices, with the aim of improving survivability in sudden cardiac arrest victims.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust was funded from the fortune of the Helmsleys.

Since 2008, the trust has made more than $2.6 billion in commitments for a range of charitable purposes.

Harry Helmsley died in 1997. Leona Helmsley died in 2007.

“The trust’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel,” the trust said. “To date, this program has awarded more than $452 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana.”


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