SANTA ROSA -- REACH Air Medical Services and Cal-Ore Life Flight announced they have merged, creating what they describe as a "comprehensive network of medical air and ground transportation in the Western United States."

The merger of the two privately held companies took effect Nov. 30 and was in in response to a "dynamic" and quickly evolving health care landscape. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. 

“In order to meet the changing needs and demands of health care reform, hospitals, health care organizations and insurance companies are looking for ways to streamline operations and expenses both within and outside of the hospital," said Jim Adams, chief executive officer of Santa Rosa-based REACH. "We believe that by creating a structure and system that allows these organizations to work with a single high-quality, patient-focused objective of providing complete patient transport services, we will be able to assist them in meeting both their fiscal demands as well as their quality of care expectations."

As part of the merger, REACH will take over some of Cal-Ore's general and administrative functions, including financial services, human resources,  risk management, business development and referral management. The company names will remain the same.

REACH will also provide increased clinical training and marketing support. Both organizations manage ambulance membership programs that accept health insurance reimbursement as payment in full for services provided, after deductibles.

Dan Brattain, president and chief executive of Cal-Ore Life Flight, will sit on the REACH Air Medical Holdings board of directors.

The companies' services will be managed through REACH’s First Call regional referral center.

"To say this is important to us and the communities we serve would be an understatement," Mr. Brattain said.

Cal-Ore serves rural southern Oregon and northern California. Rural hospitals, in particular, will benefit from the new, larger organization, according to Mr. Brattain said.

REACH -- short for Redwood Empire Air Care Helicopter --- has 13 bases for helicopters, including one for airplanes. Brookings, Ore.-based Cal-Ore has two airplane bases and two for ground ambulances. They have been collaborating on patient transport for years, the companies said in the joint announcement. 

REACH has operations in Concord, Imperial, Lakeport, Marysville, Redding, Sacramento, Lodi, Thermal, Upland and Santa Rosa in California, Corvallis in Oregon, and Houston and San Antonio in Texas. REACH started with a single helicopter in 1987 and now employs more than 300 people.

Cal-Ore operates eight ambulances, seven fixed-wing aircraft and a remote scene support helicopter. It operates a facility providing aviation products and has a staff of more than 70. Air bases are located in Eureka and Crescent City as well as Gold Beach and Brookings in Oregon.

Both companies are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Services.REACH enters deal for neonatal, maternity emergency nursing in Texas

Earlier in November, REACH and the Women's Hospital of Texas in Houston announced a collaboration to provide life-saving, round-the-clock emergency medical helicopter service to the Houston metro area.

As part of the program, called AIR CARE, REACH will provide paramedics, pilots, aviation maintenance technicians and a state-of-the-art EC-135 helicopter. Woman’s Hospital will provide neonatal and maternity nurses to complete the emergency flight teams.

REACH Air Medical Services will locate the aircraft and 24-hour crew quarters at the main Woman’s Hospital campus in Houston.