HASTINGS — A grant from the Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust helped fund the purchase of three LUCAS mechanical chest compression devices for Mary Lanning Healthcare in Hastings.

The trust announced the multimillion-dollar effort to save lives of COVID-19 patients and protect frontline workers caring for them. A total of $4,711,481 was distributed across five upper Midwest states to pay for 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices.

“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. “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 health care 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 heart damage.

“Mary Lanning Healthcare is fortunate to receive three LUCAS devices,” said Eric Barber, MLH president and CEO.

The rise in cardiac complications caused by COVID-19 exposes patients and health care 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 world, initially due to its ability to deliver extended CPR in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines. Many 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.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is partnering with medical facilities in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to ensure the devices are in place before the peak of COVID-19 hits. The devices will stay in place after the pandemic.

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