The construction of a helipad at Grande Ronde Hospital began recently. GRH Project Manager Tim Wilcox anticipates full completion of the three-phase project by summer’s end, adding that the majority of the $1.2 million price tag for the project utilizes local contractors, labor and construction supplies.
"We estimate a completion date of August 31, 2012 – that's all three phases completed and the helistop useable," Wilcox said.
The first phase includes the helistop footings and four large support columns. Phase two is the construction of the patient vestibule and pathway from the second floor exit out to the pad, and phase three is the placement of steel beams that will be fabricated to bolt across the columns and support the landing pad.
Facilities Director Elaine LaRochelle expressed her appreciation for everyone’s patience for any inconvenience during the summer, promising the biggest impact to parking – which is already at a premium on the landlocked campus – will be on hospital employees, not patients and visitors.
"We have not eliminated any patient or visitor parking places, although customer parking for the Business Office had to be relocated to the east side of the north wing in order to avoid the construction site," said LaRochelle.
Freight delivery also presented a challenge because the loading dock is located in the middle of the construction site. In order to assist drivers, LaRochelle has ensured the delivery area will be staffed for the short duration of the project.
Although the helistop construction is not the most complicated project undertaken at the hospital in recent years, it is the most visible. When completed, the face of GRH will have a new look with a helistop located above the open space between the east wing and the business office.
"The implementation of this project marks an important milestone in Grande Ronde Hospital's commitment to fulfill its mission to ensure access to high quality healthcare," said Carl Bond, senior director of clinical services, who oversees all construction for the corporation. "Construction of an on-campus helistop will enhance patient outcomes by providing rapid air transport to an appropriate facility."
The raised pad design and on-campus location allow the helicopter access to a more direct route in and out of the hospital for those emergency patients needing air ambulance transport to tertiary facilities, such as OHSU in Portland or Saint Alphonsus in Boise, Idaho. The hospital anticipates approximately 350 rotor wing transports will occur each year. This more efficient and rapid response for transport of certain cardiac, stroke, and trauma patients will significantly improve patient medical outcomes.
"For example, stroke patients have about three hours to get to a facility that is equipped with the specialists and technology to reverse the damage process," explained Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services. "Patients with certain types of heart attacks have 90 minutes to get to where they need to be. Time lost for stroke and cardiac patients often means brain and heart muscle loss. We've never had a permanent rotor wing air ambulance in the community – now that we do, and this helistop will shave precious minutes off the transport time we are currently experiencing. There is only one reason we are building a helistop at Grande Ronde Hospital – we want to do the best thing possible for our patients."
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