July 08, 2024

Care in Motion: How HNL Lab Medicine and LVHN are Saving Lives

Care in Motion: How HNL Lab Medicine and LVHN are Saving Lives

healthcare team blood transfusions

Meet our dedicated healthcare team:
Bryan Evans, MedEvac Director; Dr. Jeffery Kuklinsky, Medical Director;
Dr. Peter Clifford, Pathologist; Michael McMahon, Blood Bank Manager;
Matthew Meade, MedEvac Project Lead; Laura Bailey, Blood Bank Director;
Adam Garger, MedEvac Manager; Daniel Bowser, CCT EMT;
James Kish, Flight Nurse; and Richard Becker, Flight Paramedic.

HNL Lab Medicine and Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) have partnered to make a groundbreaking improvement in local emergency medical care. Starting now, the blood banks operated by HNL Lab Medicine will provide blood supplies for LVHN MedEvac helicopters and ambulances.

This service allows medical personnel to administer life-saving blood transfusions right at the scene or while transporting patients to the hospital, ensuring that help reaches those in critical need faster than ever before.

Critical care transport (CCT) crews will now provide whole blood transfusions to a wide range of patients during interfacility transports and emergency medical service (EMS) rendezvous. Trauma patients benefit the most from this capability, as they often require urgent care while being transported. With this new capability, crews can now carry their own blood supply, ensuring timely transfusions even when the sending facility’s blood supply is exhausted.


Navigating Regulatory Challenges

Laura Bailey, the Clinical Lab Operations Director at HNL Lab Medicine, highlighted the teamwork and dedication involved in bringing this life-saving therapy to fruition. “Our team is proud to contribute to this life-saving initiative, providing critical support to patients in their most vulnerable moments,” said Bailey. “Every second counts in emergencies, and this capability makes a profound difference in saving lives. It was a true team effort to navigate and overcome the numerous regulatory and logistical challenges.”

Laura Bailey’s dedication and the collaborative efforts of her team made this program possible. Bailey and her team meticulously reviewed FDA regulations concerning blood storage and transport, ensuring compliance with stringent requirements.

“The FDA has very strict requirements for safely storing blood for transfusions. In order to prevent bacterial growth or contamination, which could lead to serious infections like sepsis, we must ensure that temperatures are tightly controlled and never go out of range. The safe temperature range for storing blood is between 1 and 6 degrees Celsius,” explained Laura Bailey. The validation process for the program components was particularly demanding.


Temperature Control: Critical to Patient Safety

healthcare team blood transfusionsFor validation, Bailey’s team worked closely with MedEvac, using temperature monitoring devices while sending blood back and forth to mimic the process. This collaboration was essential to ensure temperatures remained stable under real-world conditions.

The storage device is validated for MedEvac to keep blood safe for 24 hours. Using the storage devices with monitoring tools, they treated it as an actual run, and then analyzed the temperature data. This process was repeated many times to ensure reliability, and the validation will continue biannually to account for extreme temperatures in summer and winter.

“We adhere to the strictest requirements to ensure quality control and patient safety. Maintaining precise temperature control is essential to prevent contamination and safeguard the health of our patients,” said Bailey. “I am proud of my team’s hard work. The successful validation of our blood storage and transport process ensures that we can safely provide life-saving transfusions during critical emergencies.”


Collaborative Innovation in Healthcare

This initiative represents a collective effort between MedEvac and HNL Lab Medicine blood bank teams, marking a significant advancement in patient care by enabling earlier access to transfusions, which is proven to improve patient outcomes and save lives. Starting with ambulances, the program will gradually expand to helicopters, demonstrating the commitment of HNL Lab Medicine and LVHN to advancing emergency medical services.

This development sets a new standard for trauma and emergency care, ensuring that patients receive the best possible treatment as quickly as possible. The compassion and teamwork behind this initiative underscore its profound impact on saving lives and enhancing the quality of care provided to patients during critical moments.