As Tim Lenth prepares for retirement and reflects on 30 years as a ThedaStar flight nurse, he knows how important a good team is to a successful program.
“When you have a crew like we do, it makes the job enjoyable,” he said. “You know each other so well, supporting each other’s strengths. When you respond to a scene and begin caring for a patient, without even speaking, you know what the other team member is doing, with everyone playing a critical role to provide the best care possible.”
One of those team members serving alongside Tim likely knows him better than anyone, his son, Adam Lenth.
The ThedaStar air medical flight nurses are one of the only, if not the only, father-son duo in the nation to work on an air medical flight crew. They have worked many shifts together, and have an unbreakable bond of support.
Following in His Father’s Footsteps
Adam Lenth may have been destined for a career with ThedaStar. When he was 18, Adam worked cleaning the emergency department at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah. He became a CNA, and later found his way to the ThedaStar Dispatch Center. He then became an emergency department nurse. When a spot opened on the ThedaStar team, Adam wasn’t exactly sure he’d apply for the highly sought-after position.
“I always wanted him to do this job, I knew he would be a great fit,” said Tim. “I tried talking to him about applying, and ultimately, it was some of the other flight nurses that have been here since the program began that sealed the deal. Like most kids, I should have known he’d listen to someone else’s advice.”
Adam has now been with the program for six years.
“It’s been a really neat experience,” said Adam. “I’m very grateful I have the opportunity to be a part of this team, and work alongside my dad. They are truly the best at what they do.”
ThedaStar provides inter-facility helicopter transports and scene responses for critically ill or injured patients from incident scenes and for patient who need specialized care services at ThedaCare hospitals or other centers. Nurses receive specialized training to help prepare them for the care they will provide for patients.
The Lenths find themselves working together frequently – something they don’t mind at all.
“We get along well,” said Adam. “Whether that is here at work or at home, we’ve done remodeling projects together and more. It’s a very unique situation.”
Celebrating a Legacy
Now it the 35th year, ThedaStar has completed more than 15,000 flights providing emergency medical transport services to communities across Northeast and Central Wisconsin. When ThedaStar launched, it was the third air ambulance program in the state and the only one north of Milwaukee or Madison.
Tim has served as flight nurse for more than three decades. He worked as an emergency department nurse and EMT before joining the team. He is one of the longest-serving crew members of the program which began in 1986.
“In 30 years, the biggest change has been the technology,” said Tim. “We have better equipment that has helped us save more lives. Patient care has not really changed – it always goes back to the basics to evaluate the situation and stabilize a patient. The additional technology we have access to allows us to provide better care and improve outcomes for those who need us.”
Years of experience makes Tim a good teacher.
“I learn so much from him,” said Adam. “This job is very different than anything else in health care. To have someone who has experienced various situations, and can share that knowledge with me is priceless.”
The duo also provide strength for one another.
“Just like any other job, this one can be stressful,” explained Tim. “Many people don’t understand what we go through. It’s important that we lean on one another. To have a dad and son be that person for each other, it’s special.”
Will this father-son team welcome another generation to the ThedaStar team? Adam has four children and he said he’s not sure what the future might hold.
“We’ll see if any of them have an interest in the career,” said Adam. “If they do, it would be really neat.”
Until Tim takes the next step to retirement on August 20, the two will continue working together, providing the best care possible for patients and families.
For more than 110 years, ThedaCare® has been committed to improving the health and well-being of the communities it serves in Northeast and Central Wisconsin. The organization delivers care to more than 600,000 residents in 17 counties and employs approximately 7,000 health care professionals. ThedaCare has 180 points of care, including seven hospitals. As an organization committed to being a leader in Population Health, team members are dedicated to empowering people to live their unique best lives. ThedaCare also partners with communities to understand needs, finding solutions together, and encouraging health awareness and action. ThedaCare is the first in Wisconsin to be a Mayo Clinic Care Network Member, giving specialists the ability to consult with Mayo Clinic experts on a patient’s care. ThedaCare is a not-for-profit health system with a level II trauma center, comprehensive cancer treatment, stroke and cardiac programs, as well as primary care.
For more information, visit thedacare.org or follow ThedaCare on social media. Members of the media should call Cassandra Wallace, Public and Media Relations Consultant at 920.442.0328 or the ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah switchboard at 920.729.3100 and ask for the marketing person on call.