Stat Air Nears Completion of New Hangar, Offices
The Northeast Montana Stat Air Ambulance Cooperative is nearing completion of their new hangar, crew quarters and office combination at Wokal Field in Glasgow. According to Program Director Clay Berger, the hangar has been in the making for over 20 years. He explained that changes and updates were always becoming necessary, so the plan had to be constantly adapted as the cooperative expanded to take on serving more hospitals in Northeast Montana.
The new hangar is set to open around mid-April, and will contain living quarters for aircrews, office space for daily operations, simulation and training centers, and a large conference room that will double as the County Emergency Operations Center in the event of an emergency, said Berger. He admitted funding for the project was difficult to acquire, but said that they planned ahead and saved for it. "If it seems like things have been running smoothly it's because Mark Brabeck and I have been planning it for over 20 years," said Berger.
Stat Air operates as a non-profit hospital controlled cooperative air ambulance. According to Berger they have negotiated with most insurance companies, including Medicare and Medicaid, to guarantee patients are not billed for outstanding balances outside their deductibles. These negotiations have made Stat Air a highly competitive service in Montana, where air services have come under scrutiny from legislatures for their seemingly outlandish fees. "We are trying to eliminate any balance billing," said Berger explaining, "Our intent is to make sure no one goes bankrupt from air ambulance services."
Currently, Stat Air services Philips County Hospital, Frances Mahon Deaconess Hospital, Northeast Montana Health Centers in Wolf Point and Poplar, Roosevelt Memorial Hospital in Culbertson, McCone County Health Center in Circle, and Baker Memorial Hospital. "We have 34 full and part-time employees with two crews on call 24/7 for each aircraft," said Berger adding that, "Last year we conducted over 618 flights and this year we are set to complete over 640." According to Berger, Stat Air is the busiest air ambulance service in Montana.
Berger wanted to thank the community and contractors who have worked to make the project a success. "We are grateful for such great support from the community on getting this done," said Berger. He thanked Brady Braaten for the energy efficient heating and cooling, Dale Plumbing and Heating for the heating systems and plumbing, Hi-Tech Electrical for their electricians services, and Brabeck Construction for the general contracting services.