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‘Minutes Matter:’ OSF expands Life Flight service in Galesburg and surrounding communities

Courtesy photo
OSF Healthcare
OSF Life Flight crew members at the new aviation hangar adjacent to OSF St. Mary Medical Center in Galesburg.

A Life Flight helicopter will be available 24 hours a day for Galesburg and the surrounding communities.

Moments before the blessing ceremony for OSF HealthCare’s new aviation hangar was set to begin, the Life Flight helicopter took off on a call.

It choppered away above cornfields, railroad tracks, and OSF St. Mary Medical Center on the north edge of Galesburg as officials gathered to celebrate expanded Life Flight service for the region.

Lisa DeKezel, president of St. Mary’s and OSF Holy Family Medical Center in Monmouth, said OSF focused heavily in recent years on how to best support rural communities in the area, and the new hangar is a prime example.

“This truly is an exceptional component of that, when you think of the opportunity to respond real-time to our rural communities,” DeKezel said.

With the new hangar adjacent to St. Mary’s, a Life Flight helicopter will be available 24 hours a day for Galesburg and the surrounding communities.

Service can be requested by EMS, physicians, fire personnel, police, and hospitals.

Previously a helicopter would be stationed in Galesburg during the day, but return to Peoria in the evening.

DeKezel said the opportunity to respond in real-time is important in a region with many agricultural families and a wide variety of industries.

“As we always say, minutes matter,” she said.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall, chair of the OSF HealthCare boards, offered blessings for those who will care for patients in the air and the crews that will maintain the safety of the flights.

“This hangar then becomes, like all areas of OSF, truly sacred ground, because it’s being deployed in the service of human life,” Duvall said.

As is OSF tradition, Father Deus-dedit Byabato blessed the hands of the staff and the crew, then sprinkled the new facility with holy water.

The Galesburg Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting for the hangar following the blessing and dedication.

OSF Life Flight has been serving Illinois since 1984 and is among the premier air ambulance services in the U.S.

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