Millcreek Community Hospital Contributes to Erie County Emergency Traffic System
Hospital lends supports to system designed to increase efficiency of emergency transport of patients

Plans to upgrade emergency traffic signals in Erie County received a key boost from Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) as the hospital became the only community, non-governmental organization to fund the project.  Making a difference in the time it takes to transport emergency patients to a hospital is the reason MCH agreed to contribute $30,000 toward a new Emergency Vehicle Traffic Preemption System, said Mary L. Eckert, President and CEO of Millcreek Community Hospital, a teaching hospital of the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM).

The MCH donation, announced at a news conference at the hospital, brings the total amount raised to $231,000.  The estimate to complete a system throughout the City of Erie and Erie County is $1.4 million.  This map shows the location of proposed emergency light receivers in local municipalities.

Former Millcreek Supervisor Joe Kujawa, Millcreek Community Hospital President-CEO Mary Eckert, Eric Milie, DO, Medical Director of MCH Outpatient Services, Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper, and Erie County Councilman Phil Fatica announced the hospital's contribution to help upgrade emergency traffic signals.

“Our mission is to focus not only medical excellence inside our hospital, but also on the health care needs of the community at large,” Eckert said. “If we believe a service can help save lives in our community, we support it, as we did by funding the county’s first 9-1-1 system in Millcreek.  We believe a new emergency traffic system will benefit patients, so we supported Erie County’s and Millcreek Township’s request for financial support.  I believe we’re the only local hospital that did say yes and I hope other organizations will also provide their support to this worthwhile project.”

“The hospital’s contribution made the difference we needed to go ahead with the first phase of a system that enhances the speed and safety of ambulances on their way to reach patients and then take them for medical treatment by giving emergency vehicle drivers the means to change traffic signals,”  explained Erie County Council member Phil Fatica.  “It’s a lifesaving investment that Millcreek Community Hospital has made.”     

Erie County Council announced it would match the first $100,000 raised if participating townships agreed to maintain the system once installed and if the funds were used in a competitive bid for the services provided.  Fatica and former Millcreek Township Supervisor Joe Kujawa sought and received $20,000 each from the townships of Summit and Fairview; $15,000 from Harborcreek; $45,000 from Millcreek; and $1,000 from Lawrence Park.  The county then contributed $100,000; the MCH donation of $30,000 brings the total to date to $231,000.  The bid was won by Emergency Traffic Systems, Inc., an Erie company.

Fatica said it may be as soon as a few months for the new emergency light receivers to be installed at 57 intersections leading into the City.  That many of the lights still work, he added, is due in large part to the tireless efforts of Millcreek traffic engineer Dick Whitbread, who he publicly recognized.   “He singlehandedly kept many of the light systems operating, which undoubtedly enhanced the outcomes of many of our residents who experienced health emergencies,” Fatica said.

Fatica also recognized Kujawa, who he said was instrumental in gaining the MCH donation.  “I want to express my gratitude to Millcreek Community Hospital and to LECOM, on behalf of all of us who live in Erie County, for their generous donation,” said Kujawa.  “Other hospitals were given the opportunity to help with this project, but so far only Millcreek Hospital has stepped forward.”

Fatica introduced Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper who also thanked the hospital, the participating townships and Erie County Council.

An Emergency Vehicle Traffic Preemption System allows ambulances to reach patients faster and enables them to more quickly transport patients to medical facilities.

“Phil Fatica spearheaded this effort,” she said, “an effort that first raised $101,000 from the townships of Millcreek, Fairview, Summit, Harborcreek and Lawrence Park.  I applaud this collaboration to update a system that was outdated and failing in many of the intersections where it had been installed years ago.”

Dahlkemper also thanked Millcreek Township engineer Rick Morris for his involvement and PennDOT for its approval of the new system.  And, she encouraged other community organizations to “partner with us to increase the funding and expand the number of intersections that can be made safer.”

Eric Milie, D.O., the medical director of MCH Outpatient Services, then presented the check from Millcreek Community Hospital for $30,000 to Erie County.

“I’m very happy to present this because, as a physician, I know firsthand that even a few seconds can make a critical difference in treating someone who has experienced a stroke or who had a serious fall or other medical emergency,” he said. “We’re not the region’s trauma center, but we do treat more than 1,000 patients a month in our ER.  Plus, we are the region’s leading behavioral health facility, with 62 beds for adolescents, adults and seniors who are often admitted here after experiencing an emotional or mental health crisis.  These patients also need to get to the hospital as quickly as possible.”           

At the conclusion of remarks, the audience was invited outside to see a Millcreek Paramedic Service ambulance, how its driver can access the emergency traffic preemption system, and other emergency equipment.

Millcreek Community Hospital (MCH) is a 218-bed, comprehensive, acute care osteopathic hospital that provides inpatient, outpatient and 24/7 emergency services.  It is the largest provider of behavioral health in northwestern Pennsylvania and is also known for its senior services such as the region’s only Acute Care for the Elderly (ACE) unit as well as its transitional care, rehabilitation and advanced wound care units.  With the Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine and the Clinical Practices of LECOM, MCH is part of the only osteopathic academic health center in the United States.

May 23, 2014
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