Press Releases

Helmsley Charitable Trust Grants $4.7M to Fund Life-Saving Technology to Confront Cardiac Threat from COVID-19 in Omaha, Council Bluffs and Fremont

Published: April 20, 2020

The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust announced today a multimillion-dollar effort to save the lives of COVID-19 patients and protect the frontline health care workers caring for them.

A total of $4,711,481 in funding will be distributed across five upper-Midwestern states to pay for 367 LUCAS mechanical CPR devices to be deployed to hospitals caring for patients during the pandemic and beyond.

The Helmsley Charitable Trust is partnering with medical facilities in Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Montana and Wyoming to ensure the devices are in place before COVID-19’s peak. The devices will remain in place after the pandemic as part of the hospitals’ cardiac systems of care.

The grant will fund the purchase of eight LUCAS mechanical chest compression devices for Methodist Health system – three at Methodist Hospital, three at Methodist Jennie Edmundson Hospital and two at Methodist Fremont Health. The devices will arrive and deploy at the respective sites next week.

“Keeping our front line health care workers safe is essential, and we are beyond grateful for this collaboration and support from the Helmsley Foundation,” said Tracy Madden-McMahon, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital Foundation. “These devices will help save lives.”  

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.

“These devices are vital because we don’t want frontline 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.”

The rise in cardiac complications caused by COVID-19 exposes patients and health care workers to greater risk, as hands-on CPR can be needed for extended periods and personal protective equipment can become less effective in keeping the virus from spreading to medical providers.

Mechanical CPR has been adopted by emergency medical responders and many hospitals around the globe, initially due to its ability to deliver extended CPR in compliance with American Heart Association guidelines. Multiple studies have demonstrated equivalence to high-performance CPR, as well as increased provider safety and higher rates of adequate compressions for patients in transport situations. Recently, the Department of Defense COVID-19 Practice Management Guide identified the LUCAS chest compression system as the best practice for managing patients in cardiac arrest to reduce the risk of exposure to care providers.

“We were able to go from concept to delivery of the devices in two weeks, and that’s been an incredible effort of teamwork with the manufacturer and the hospitals to get them in place ahead of the peak needs,” Panzirer said. “It’s wonderful to see competing entities working together during a national crisis for the good of all.”



About the LUCAS® Cardiac Care Project
Since 2015, the Helmsley Charitable Trust has given nearly $33 million in grants to help hospitals and first responders in seven upper-Midwestern states purchase over 2,400 LUCAS devices, which improve survivability in sudden cardiac arrest victims. The LUCAS® Chest Compression System (LUCAS®) delivers consistent, reliable and uninterrupted chest compressions, which allows health care providers to concentrate on other equally important aspects of patient care, providing patients with the best opportunity of survival. The LUCAS® device virtually frees up one health care worker to perform other essential tasks.

About the Helmsley Charitable Trust 
The Leona M. and Harry B. Helmsley Charitable Trust aspires to improve lives by supporting exceptional efforts in the U.S. and around the world in health and select place-based initiatives. Since beginning active grantmaking in 2008, Helmsley has committed more than $2.6 billion for a wide range of charitable purposes. Helmsley’s Rural Healthcare Program funds innovative projects that use information technologies to connect rural patients to emergency medical care, bring the latest medical therapies to patients in remote areas, and provide state-of-the-art training for rural hospitals and EMS personnel. To date, this program has awarded more than $452 million to organizations and initiatives in the upper Midwest states of North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. For more information, visit