Minutes matter in health care

By Observer editorial August 23, 2011 08:13 pm
Grande Ronde Hospital’s plan for helistop would enhance area’s health care system Adding a helistop at Grande Ronde Hospital might prove to be a bit of a minor inconvenience in the form of noise to homes along the route to and from the hospital from time to time, but the gains in patient service and minutes saved for those requiring trauma, heart or stroke care seem to far outweigh what might be considered a nuisance to some. As hospital officials have noted, when minutes count, lives are saved with rapid transport.

Grande Ronde Hospital has applied for a conditional use permit from the city of La Grande to construct a helistop on the east wing of the hospital. The La Grande Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the application tonight.

Minutes matter when it comes to treating trauma, heart attacks and stroke. As solid as our local ambulance crews are at getting patients to the hospital with the best of care, it does take time to prepare a patient for transport to the airport or even to the school district field across the street. With a LifeFlight helicopter able to land on the east wing roof, patients can be readied and flown off to wherever the specialty exists for the best of treatment, usually either Boise or Portland.

LifeFlight would use a helicopter that is well suited for such positioning in the heart of a city. The helicopter in use is quieter than the older models, and the chopper would follow a particular ingress and egress route to the helistop. Sure, there will be sound associated with the comings and goings, but the number of flights will be far less than the number of trains that pass through town every day, and most of us have adjusted to those sounds.

Grande Ronde Hospital is making strides to enhance the area’s access to high-quality health care. As a critical access hospital it is limited in the kinds of speciality physicians it can support, namely neurosurgeons, trauma surgeons, vascular neurologists and cardiac surgery. Therefore, ensuring quick access to those kinds of services goes a long way to serving its region. Adding the helistop would help accomplish that goal.