New AirCare Plane Welcomed

Patients utilizing San Juan Regional Medical Center’s air ambulance services will experience improved safety features, comfort and quiet aboard our new aircraft. Our new AirCare airplane, a Pilatus PC-12 NGX, was recently welcomed with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the Four Corners Regional Airport. The plane replaces our 1997 model Pilatus with the latest technological improvements. 

“This is the culmination of many years of work and planning,” said Jeff Bourgeois, President and CEO of San Juan Regional Medical Center. “What a blessing to provide such a tremendous service with such a reach, delivering life-saving care day in and day out.”

“This new plane will help carry the service through into the future for all the members of our communities in the Four Corners,” Chief Nursing Officer Suzanne Smith added.

AirCare services at San Juan Regional Medical Center first began in 1986 with one airplane provided on an as-needed basis by Four Corners Aviation. Realizing how important this service was to the community, San Juan Regional Medical Center made the commitment to purchase a fixed wing aircraft (AirCare 2) and a helicopter (AirCare 1). Over the years we have transported thousands of patients both in our airplane and helicopter. In fact, the airplane we are retiring has flown nearly 19,000 air miles (the limit is 20,000), covering 4 million miles while transporting almost 10,000 patients.

“The reason we are able to do all of this is because of the people we have in uniform, and all the people we’ve had in uniform in years past who kept us moving patients,” said Mike Berve, outgoing AirCare Manager who is retiring after 44 years of service at SJRMC.

“We have an incredible group of clinicians,” said incoming AirCare Manager Robbie Donald. “We are all here to do our best for our community and we really want our community to know that this hospital has invested the resources, the education, everything we need to best serve you as our community.”

Captain Joe Rich reviewing the avionics of the new plane.  

The Pilatus PC-12 NGX has many safety features that benefit both patients and the crew, including a new patient loading system, a wider and longer stretcher to accommodate patients, antimicrobial surfaces, avionics, and a smoother ride.

“It’s like taking a 1997 pickup truck that has crank windows and getting a new one, that’s about how different it is,” Berve said.

For Donald, seeing the new plane come into service as he begins his role as AirCare manager has special meaning. He was born prematurely at San Juan Regional Medical Center and had to be intubated and transported in an aeromedical airplane to Denver for neonatal ICU care.

“All these years later I’m just so proud and happy to be able to come back to serve this community, to serve these scared mothers and fathers, our brothers and sisters, serve them in the way my family was served so many years ago,” he said.

San Juan Regional Medical Center’s AirCare service is a coordinated effort that takes numerous contributions and continued support of San Juan Regional Medical Center staff members, the City of Farmington, San Juan County and area dispatchers. We look forward to putting our new plane into service as we continue to work together to provide safe emergency medical flights to our community.

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