Bluewater Health Planning for Hospital Helipad

Bluewater Health Planning for Hospital Helipad

10-Feb-2021 Source: Bluewater Health

Bluewater Health is planning for the establishment of a helipad at the Sarnia hospital to support the region’s most critical patients. Earlier this week. Lambton County Council received their first high-level overview of the project.

“Every single minute saved in transporting a patient drastically increases the likelihood of a positive outcome,” said Dr. Mike Haddad, Chief of Staff. “When we are talking about our most critically ill and severely injured patients – from brain injuries to burn victims to neonatal intensive care unit patients – quick access to helicopter transportation saves lives.… and I know as a community we can do more.”

The hospital, with two locations that service both urban and rural populations, cares for a population of over 126,000 people. Currently Bluewater Health relies on ground emergency medical services (EMS) and the Sarnia Chris Hadfield airport for patient transfers. This is the only hospital in the region without on-site air-ambulance capabilities, which are critically important when transfers and delays can mean poorer patient outcomes.

“Most hospitals of our size and scope – and even smaller hospitals – have helipads, so it’s something we’re looking at to round out our complete care package,” said Laurie Zimmer, Vice-President, Operations. “A helipad at the Sarnia hospital is an invaluable resource, and long overdue.”

Bluewater Health is in the first phase of planning, which includes a detailed process with the city, the county, community members, Transport Canada and Ornge. To establish the helipad, planning involves studying benefits and impacts, such as projected volumes, benefits to care, and human and financial resources. Wind studies and flight path research is underway.

During the 2019/2020 fiscal year, Bluewater Health transferred out almost 400 people –from either the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Unit, or the Maternal/Infant/Child Unit.  As the hospital’s operating budget does not cover the helipad, Bluewater Health is seeking to raise the $800,000 capital cost of the project.

Bluewater Health has begun to engage key stakeholders throughout the initial planning phases, and there will be plenty of opportunity for public input as the process continues, including an online public input session to be scheduled later this year.

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