Helipad reopens at Tofino General Hospital after 8 year wait

Helipad reopens at Tofino General Hospital after 8 year wait 4 Oct, 19, Source: Island Health

Helicopters are once again able to airlift patients who are in need of a higher level of care from Tofino General Hospital, now that a new helipad is in place next to the hospital.

“This is terrific news for the residents of this area, and for the thousands of visitors who come to this special and welcoming community every year,” said Scott Fraser, MLA for Mid-Island Pacific Rim. “The community has asked, and we are responding. The helipad will help ensure that critically ill or injured people are able to get to the care they need as quickly and safely as possible.”

BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) air ambulance helicopters respond to more than 20 patient transfer calls a year in Tofino. To date this year 26 patients have been airlifted from TGH to another acute care site by air ambulance helicopters.

“The Tofino Hospital helipad is crucial to helping BC Emergency Health Services paramedics meet the needs of patients who need hospital transfers, or require an air ambulance response in the community,” said BCEHS Chief Operating Officer Barb Fitzsimmons.

The helipad, which opened in June, is located next to the hospital on land owned by the Tofino General Hospital Foundation. “This helipad would not have been possible without the strong partnership that exists between Island Health, the Hospital Foundation and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Health District,” said Island Health board chair Leah Hollins. “We appreciate their support, and the support and involvement of the entire community.”

“Our community has been clear that we want to have helicopter access from our hospital to hospitals in Victoria or Vancouver,” said Arlene McGinnis, TGHF chair. “The foundation was very happy to work with Island Health on this project.”

The Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Health District covered $302,000 of the cost of the $845,000 project.

“No one wants to think about needing an emergency trip to a hospital in Victoria or Vancouver, but it’s absolutely essential that we can provide it when necessary,” said Josie Osborne, Tofino Mayor and chair of the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional Hospital District. “This helipad is a critical piece of infrastructure for the West Coast region, and we are grateful to see it completed.”

A previous helipad was closed in 2011 after Transport Canada issued an order for improvements. In the intervening years air evacuations were conducted from the Tofino airport and potential helipad sites were considered. All were deemed unsuitable. In 2016, when the Foundation’s land became available, Island Health began working with the community on the successful helipad project.

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