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Published on December 28, 2021

Anna Vanden Bosch

Careflight Director Leads Team to Take Pandemic Challenges Head-On

At a time when they were sorely needed, Careflight clinical operations director Anna Vanden Bosch believed her Sioux Falls team could step up and step in to serve beyond their normal realms of emergency air transport.

“With so many patients, we needed a way to get the right patient in the right bed at the right time,” Vanden Bosch said.

Her idea was a transfer-back program to transfer patients to their home, nursing home, or another hospital to reserve critical care beds for the sickest patients. Having vehicles and skilled clinicians, she recognized that Careflight could help fill this void. “They proved me right, day in and day out.”

“We had senior leaders buy into what we proposed. We would also need to get buy-in from state government as well,” she said.

Developing a Transfer Plan for all of South Dakota

As Vanden Bosch kept everyone from executive leaders to her newest employees on the same page, South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem also gave her stamp of approval by issuing a special executive order to allow the program.

“In just two weeks, we had started the transfer service, and we included members of our local emergency medical services teams to help us,” she said. “Across the board, our Careflight team never once complained. They took on the additional duties and completed them with excellence. All the while, we kept our patients safe and made sure our flight duties and emergency response remained top-notch.”

Ongoing Efforts in the Face of Fluid Challenges

Lee Bollock, Avera Assistant Vice President of Emergency Services, said Vanden Bosch made key decisions throughout the pandemic, serving many patients directly as well as indirectly.

“Over this past year, Anna really rose to the occasion time and time again. And every single decision made, regardless of whether she had weeks or minutes to make it, was driven by priorities including safety of patients and staff, quality patient care, and our CARE standards,” Bollock said. “Although some of these changes evolved rapidly, Anna continually exemplified our standards through it all, and brought a really meaningful passion to our mission.”

The program might have needed years to prepare in “normal” setting, but Vanden Bosch got it ready in just a few weeks. While planned as a program that’d contribute for about three months, it continued for almost five, and put more than 110 patients in the right place at the right time.

“We realized that if the transfer-back program was done right, it’d free up vital critical care beds for the sickest patients,” she said. “Every member of our team shows their adaptability skills each time they go out, and through this additional effort, they showed it again and again. We are more connected and more nimble thanks to this experience.”

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