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Foundation secures grant to buy chest compression devices

Foundation secures grant to buy chest compression devices

Helmsley Charitable Trust grants $4.7M to fund life-saving technology to confront cardiac threat from COVID-19

ROCK SPRINGS – The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced a multimillion-dollar effort to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and protect the frontline healthcare workers caring for them.

The grant will fund the purchase of four LUCAS mechanical chest compression devices for Memorial Hospital of Sweetwater County.

A total of $4,711,481 in funding has been distributed across five upper-midwestern states to pay for 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices to be deployed to hospitals caring for patients during the pandemic and beyond. The Memorial Hospital Foundation was able to secure a grant totaling $50,541 to purchase four LUCAS mechanical chest compression devices for the Emergency Department, the Medical Floor, and the Intensive Care Unit.

“These devices are vital because we don’t want frontline healthcare 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.”

Research has shown cardiac damage in as many as 1 in 5 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.

“The LUCAS machines will help us drastically as we provide care to patients in critical condition,” said Jessica VanValkenburg, Registered Nurse and Clinical Coordinator of the Intensive Care Unit and Emergency Department. “More specifically, their role in performing chest compressions during CPR.

“This is a vital part of patient care, as studies show that high-quality CPR contributes to better outcomes for patients in cardiac arrest,” she said. “These extraordinary machines will assist us year round as we attempt to resuscitate those who suffer from cardiac arrest due to COVID-19 or other medical conditions.

“Every unit including the Emergency Department, ICU, and Medical Floor will benefit from the addition of the LUCAS machines. Their presence and easy accessibility will assure that high quality CPR can be started quickly and maintained for patients in need,” VanValkenburg said. “This frees healthcare professionals from a strenuous physical task and allows them to focus on other roles in their patient’s care.

“This is an amazing gift to our hospital and we are all incredibly grateful,” she added.

The rise in cardiac complications caused by COVID-19 exposes both patients and healthcare workers to greater risk, as hands-on CPR can be needed for extended periods and personal protective equipment can become less effective in keeping the virus from spreading to medical providers.

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. 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.”


About the LUCAS® Cardiac Care Project
Since 2015, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has given nearly $33 million in grants to help hospitals and first responders in seven upper-midwestern states purchase over 2,400 LUCAS devices, which improve survivability in sudden cardiac arrest victims. The LUCAS® Chest Compression System (LUCAS®) delivers consistent, reliable and uninterrupted chest compressions which allows healthcare providers to concentrate on other equally important aspects of patient care; providing patients with the best opportunity of survival. The LUCAS® device virtually frees up one healthcare worker to perform other essential tasks.
About the Helmsley Charitable Trust
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2.6 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’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. 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. For more information, visit