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Mercy Flight holds ceremonial landing at Oishei Children’s Hospital

By Jennifer Lysiak

“Every minute matters” when it comes to pediatric patients who are critically ill and injured, which is why having a helipad at the new Oishei Children’s Hospital is so important.

Representatives from Mercy Flight, along with Kaleida Health, held a ceremonial landing on the hospital’s helipad on Monday, Nov. 20. The ceremony included special guest, Nathan Jolls, a former patient of Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, whose life was saved by Mercy Flight.

For decades, Mercy Flight and Kaleida Health have teamed up to bring rooftop access to patients. Donated by Sal H. Alfiero and family, the helipad provides medical care for the most at risk patients. It allows pediatric and neonatal transport teams to dramatically improve access and reduce transport time for patients who require pediatric and neonatal critical care.

“This is a celebration of a tremendous partnership that we here at Oishei Children’s Hospital have with Mercy Flight and have had for many, many years,” remarked Chief Medical Officer of Oishei Children’s Hospital, Stephen Turkovich, M.D. “Mercy Flight is a critical partner for us to ensure children from the vast communities of Western New York both urban, rural, and suburban have access to our hospital both quickly and safely.”

Over the last 36 years, Mercy Flight has had more than 27,000 missions. That’s 27,000 lives that have been changed dramatically and have been given a chance to survive with access to the most professional critical care. Mercy Flight has critical care nurses and paramedics on board to ensure that all the patients have the best and highest quality professional care. “Getting a patient to the emergency room or to the OR as quickly as possible is critical to ensuring their best chance for survival and Mercy Flight allows us to do that,” said Tu rkovich. “A nd we wouldn’t be able to do this without supporters from the community like Sal. The lives that Sal has changed are countless.”

Alfiero, whose foundation paid in full for the helipad at Women’s and Children’s Hospital and now at Oishei’s, was also at the ceremonial landing. Alfiero said the foundation is very pleased to participate in the installation of the helipad.

“A nything that brings about an advantage is a very valuable tool,” remarked Alfiero.

“Having a helipad at the original Children’s Hospital because of Sal made an unbelievable difference,” added Founding President of Mercy Flight, Douglas Baker. “It just changed the whole environment for high risk infants and mothers, and pediatric cases. Many of which are critical, very critical. We’re very appreciative for what he has done here and the partnership we have established.” Continues on page 12

The Jolls’ Family: Steve, Deborah, Nathan, Rebecca, and baby Elsie.


Mercy Flight holds ceremonial landing held at Oishei Children’s Hospital

Because of Mercy Flight’s ability to land on the rooftop of the original hospital, 29 years ago a baby’s life was saved and today, Nathan Jolls said he is paying it forward. This lifesaving experience set the tone to his life path and goals. To day, Jolls is a helicopter pilot in the U.S. Air Force.

Jolls, a native of Gowanda, was born at Bertrand Chaffee Hospital in Springville, and labor and delivery couldn’t have gone any better. However the next day his mom and the nurses noticed he had a depression in his chest.

“It turned out to be a collapsed lung,” said Jolls. “I guess it was serious enough because Mercy Flight was called in and I was transported to Womens and Children’s Hospital.”

Jolls said hearing about this experience has always stuck with him and he just had a natural interest in aviation. When the time came, he went to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and then went on to flight school.

His pilot training was in Del Rio, Texas.

“The Air Force has a very small fleet of helicopters, but I knew I wanted to be a helicopter pilot,” remarked Jolls, adding he wanted to pay it forward.

He attended flight school in Alabama and today is an Air Force helicopter pilot. He was first stationed in Spokane, Wash., where he had his first rescue.

“It was a great experience,” said Jolls.

Currently, Jolls is residing in Alabama with his wife, Rebecca, and their newborn daughter, Elsie. He is an instructor pilot.

“From the very beginning, Mercy Flight has been a part of my story,” said Jolls. “Not only am I here today because of them, but it shaped my career and my pursuits. I can’t thank the crews and this organization for what they’ve done and what they continue to do.”

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