Alberta Health Services (AHS) is planning for a new heliport with direct access to the emergency department at Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
Construction on the heliport – to be located on land at the rear of the hospital near the emergency department, operating room and intensive care unit – is expected to begin late this year, pending approval from Transport Canada and the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
“We are excited to see this project move forward,” says Dr. Kevin Worry, Medical Director, AHS North Zone. “The new location is ideal as it offers a direct route to key patient care areas, like our emergency department, and there is a clear flight path to and from the hospital.”
The proposed site will require less preparation as previously discussed options, which is anticipated to result in lower costs and shorter construction timelines. Any inconvenience to patients and families during construction will be minimal.
Since last fall, AHS and the prime consultant, Stantec, have been meeting with staff, physicians and stakeholders to explore options of where to build the new heliport. Transport Canada has reviewed the proposed location and has no significant concerns at this time.
“We remain focused on getting a heliport at the health centre as quickly as possible,” says Dr. Worry. “We know the importance of this project. It provides direct helicopter access to the hospital for residents of Fort McMurray and Wood Buffalo, while also providing quicker access to higher levels of care in Edmonton whenever needed.”
Consultants are working on project design, timelines and budget. AHS will share further information with the community once those details have been confirmed.
Planning for the heliport will be co-ordinated around the ongoing renovation projects at the Northern Lights Regional Health Centre.
In the meantime, helicopter patient transports will continue to land at the Fort McMurray airport. Ground ambulances will be used to transport patients to and from the health centre and airport.
This is already common practice and a safe option in Fort McMurray and other communities across the province.
Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.
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