Rell has trimmed a lot of fat on next year's proposed budget. But one cut is
not "flying" so well with local hospitals. The Life Star helicopter program
could lose $1.39 million dollars next year. The change may mean grounding one
of the state's two helicopters.
Kinsella, the Vice President of Hartford Hospital says a Life Star helicopter
can pick up anyone in the state within twenty minutes. "There isn't any town in
the state of Connecticut that hasn't utilized this service.
We've been open now for thirty years."
1,100 and 1,200 people are transported by a Life Star each year. Hartford Hospital runs the program, but the
helicopter serves the entire state, flying patients to the nearest level-1
trauma center. The state helps fund Life Star which has a $7 million operating
budget. But with Governor Rell's latest round of budget cuts, Kinsella says
Life Star may have to ground one of state's the two helicopters. "People don't
realize that while we have two helicopters, two aren't always available. Our
helicopters are 25-years old and they need constant maintenance to keep in
service. So often times one is in service while another one is in flight. If
you only have one helicopter and it was down for service, you would not have any
helicopter to transfer people."
Hartford Hospital has been talking to
the legislature trying to get them to put the funds back into the budget. Deputy
Secretary Michael Cicchetti of the Office of Policy Management says the decision
to cut funding for Life Star was not easy. "The Life Star program is
important. There's no question about it. But the state funds only a small
portion...in the context of an overall multi-billion dollar deficit it could not
says there's still hope the legislature reaches a compromise. "If (funding gets)
put back its got to be able to fit in context with the larger budget
meantime, one helicopter continues to be stationed at Hartford Hospital. The other helicopter parks at
William W. Backus hospital in Norwich. There in no word on when the
legislature will make a final decision about funding the Life Star
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