First Hospital Rooftop Helipad in Charleston Ready for Service

First Hospital Rooftop Helipad in Charleston Ready for Service 28 Mar, 13, Source: Roper St. Francis Healthcare

Every second matters when a patient is rushed to a hospital during a medical emergency, especially in cases of a heart attack or stroke. Now patients transported to the Charleston peninsula via helicopter will receive medical intervention 15 to 20 minutes faster by landing on Charleston’s first hospital rooftop helipad at Roper St. Francis Healthcare’s Roper Hospital.

The Roper Hospital Helipad, erected on top of the hospital’s South Tower will allow patients to get life saving treatment within minutes of arrival via airlift. Before the Helipad, patients had to take the additional steps of being moved from a helicopter landing pad on a downtown parking garage to an ambulance, through traffic, to Roper Hospital and into the emergency room or Heart and Vascular Center.

Saving Time

Many of the airlifted patients will include those who live near coastal and more rural areas of the Lowcountry. For example, an air ambulance flight from McClellanville to the new Roper Hospital Helipad will take 15-17 minutes as opposed to almost an hour by conventional ambulance.

“We love where we live, but our friends and neighbors in McClellanville are very happy to know they now have a rapid route to interventional emergency treatments at Roper Hospital thanks to the new helipad,” said Rutledge Leland, Mayor of McClellanville.

The travel times from Kiawah and areas of John’s Islands will only be seven minutes to the new Roper tower helipad whereas transport time via roadway from there takes approximately 50 minutes.

“It is comforting for people on the barrier islands to know that there is now a faster way to get intensive emergency care for the most demanding medical situations,” said Jimmy Bailey, COO, Kiawah Island Community Association. “Those living, working or vacationing on Kiawah Island believe the new Roper Hospital Helipad presents a greatly improved scenario for emergency services on the Charleston peninsula.”

Saving Lives

The time from event to treatment saved by the Roper Hospital Helipad will be especially helpful for conditions that worsen second by second, such as an ST-Elevation Myocardial Infarctions, or STEMI. A STEMI is a very serious type of heart attack during which one of the heart’s major arteries is blocked. Every second counts as the longer the artery is blocked, the more massive the heart attack.

Now, once an air ambulance lands on the Roper Hospital Helipad it takes approximately three minutes to unload the patient and get them into the heart catheterization laboratory so that the artery can be unblocked, rather than the 20 minutes it took to deliver the patient from the old landing spot.

“The RSFH rooftop helipad will improve our patient delivery and significantly reduce travel time for our patients going to Roper Hospital,” said Don Lundy, B.S., NREMT-P, EMS Director, Charleston County EMS.

Life Saving Donations

The Roper Hospital Helipad initiative began in 2011 as Roper St. Francis recognized a need to address this shortfall in access to emergency care in downtown Charleston. The Roper St. Francis Foundation implemented a campaign to raise the $1.8 million needed to build the structure. Through donations the vision became.

“We visited people all over the Lowcountry to tell them about our plans to construct a helipad on Roper Hospital. The first response was one of relief; the second was often the question, ‘how can I help?’” said Patrick Kelly, MD, Roper Emergency Physicians.

Life Sustaining Access

Besides offering quicker care during emergencies, the 44 x 44 foot Roper Hospital Helipad will provide better supply access and evacuation options during natural disasters, such as hurricanes and floods. The sea -level city often faces transportation issues during heavy rains or storm surges.

The helipad on Roper Hospital will aid in care, transport and connection with other Roper St. Francis Healthcare hospitals as well as other state medical facilities if the entire peninsula was under mandatory evacuation. The U.S. Coast Guard will also use the helipad as an emergency landing site when needed.

The Roper Hospital Helipad is now available for patient delivery.

Hardhat Facts

What materials did it take for NBM Construction to build the Roper Hospital Helipad?

Nearly 2,500 square feet of duct work for exhaust fans
500 linear feet of sprinkler pipe
More than 3,000 linear feet of extruded aluminum
1 mile of conduit
3 miles of wire/cable
33 tons of steel

About Roper St. Francis Healthcare

Roper St. Francis Healthcare is the Lowcountry’s only private, not-for-profit healthcare provider. The 657-bed system comprises more than 90 facilities and services in seven counties. Member hospitals include Roper Hospital, Bon Secours St. Francis Hospital and Roper St. Francis Mount Pleasant Hospital, each of which is accredited by The Joint Commission. Our active medical staff is made up of more than 800 board certified physicians. The group includes Roper St. Francis Physician Partners, an expansive network of more than 200 physicians who offer primary care and 20 subspecialties. Roper St. Francis Healthcare is routinely recognized for excellence in patient care by national organizations and agencies such as BlueCross BlueShield, the Commission on Cancer, National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers, Thomson Reuters, U.S. News & World Report, Consumer Reports and more. With more than 5,200 employees, RSFH is Charleston’s largest private employer, and the system consistently scores in the superior category for patient and physician satisfaction.

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