Helmsley Charitable Trust grant provides hospitals mechanical CPR “LUCAS” devices


SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Doctors and nurses are there for you when you’re sick, but now more than ever, they have to keep in mind their own health. A multi-million dollar grant will help local hospital workers do that.

When someone goes into cardiac arrest, every second counts and it’s all hands on deck.

“Great quality CPR can save lives and it’s proven to save lives,” Todd Balzer, Avera Health paramedic, said.

We’ve shown stories of how hands-only CPR can save lives. The COVID-19 pandemic is complicating things, and safety guidelines are asking us to keep our hands to ourselves.

“I would think it would be wresting in your head of wanting to do the right thing, doing what you’re trained to do, but that fear factor of knowing you could get this virus and bring it home to your family. This device can act as a barrier,” Walter Panzirer, a trustee with The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, said.

Something called the LUCAS device is another tool for health care workers to use to help others and keep themselves safe. The LUCAS device is a CPR machine that does the work, so health workers can social distance and monitor.

“It gives the correct compression rate and also gives the correct compression depth. That person in cardiac arrest gets perfect CPR every time,” Balzer said.

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust is giving a more than $4.7 million grant. It’ll allow hospitals in five upper Midwestern states to pay for 367 LUCAS devices.

What this does for the workers, especially during the COVID-19 crisis is huge. It provides a safer work environment. Mechanical CPR has the lowest risk rate of disease transmission,” Panzirer said.
“You’re not having to put your hands on the patient.”

The grant will help several hospitals, including Avera and Sanford Health.

“If you were to ask me what this gift means to us, my response is it’s everything,” Bobbie Tibbetts, Sanford Health Foundation president, said.

Globally, many hospitals use mechanical CPR because it complies with American Heart Association guidelines. The grant also covers our neighbors including Minnesota, Iowa, and North Dakota.

The LUCAS device may free up Balzer’s hands in some situations, but he says — when it comes to patient care — his heart is always in whatever he does.

“Just to know I am giving them the best possible care I can to give them the best possible outcome I can. There’s no better feeling than that,” Balzer said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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