Photo courtesy of Lucas Chest Compression System

Helmsley Charitable Trust supports Sanford’s response to COVID-19

April 29, 2020

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust, one of the nation’s leading champions of rural health, is partnering with Sanford Health and medical facilities across the Upper Midwest, in a multimillion-dollar effort to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and protect the front line health care workers caring for them.

The Trust has distributed a total of $4,711,481 in funding across five states to pay for 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices to be deployed to hospitals caring for patients during the pandemic and beyond.

Sanford Health has received $620,895 to fund 51 additional LUCAS devices in its regions: seven in Bemidji; six in Bismarck; 18 in Fargo; and 20 in Sioux Falls. Prior to this grant, Sanford had 72 LUCAS units deployed across its footprint.


‘A proven, effective tool in saving lives’

“These devices are vital because we don’t want front line health care workers to choose between trying to save a patient or risking exposure to themselves and others to the coronavirus,” said Walter Panzirer, a trustee for the Helmsley Charitable Trust. “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 one in five 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 such heart damage.

Dr. Tom Stys, medical director of Sanford Cardiology, is a strong proponent of LUCAS devices. He, along with Lynn Thomas, director of business development at the Sanford Heart Hospital, was instrumental in Sanford’s initial adoption of the devices and in providing feedback to the Trust on their lifesaving outcomes, especially among rural patients for whom these devices are critical.

“We are grateful to the Helmsley Charitable Trust for their rapid response in addressing this critical need,” said Thomas. “It’s extremely reassuring to know that we can protect our front line teams as they work so hard to save the lives of patients.”


A shared commitment to rural health

The Trust’s effort to fund LUCAS devices is part of its Rural Healthcare Program, launched in 2009 to improve access to and enhance the quality of care across the Upper Midwest. Working closely with nonprofit implementing partners like Sanford Health, the program invests in projects that improve health care delivery and strengthen the health care workforce.

“We deeply appreciate the Trust for its longtime partnership, generosity and vision in ensuring that everyone, no matter who they are or where they live, has access to the highest quality of health care,” said Deb Koski, senior executive director of the Sanford Health Foundation. “The Trust’s leadership, especially in times like these, is invaluable and lifesaving.”

To learn how you can support the fight against COVID-19, please visit sanfordhealthfoundation.org/COVID19 for ways to give.

To learn more about the Helmsley Charitable Trust, visit helmsleytrust.org.