Work starts on $1.2 million GRH helistop

By Observer Upload June 08, 2012 01:19 pm

GRH photo  First phase of the helistop project includes construction of footings and four large support columns.
GRH photo First phase of the helistop project includes construction of footings and four large support columns.

The construction of a helistop at Grande Ronde Hospital began on May 21. 

GRH Project Manager Tim Wilcox anticipates full completion of the three-phase project by summer’s end, adding that the majority of the $1.2 million price tag for the project utilizes local contractors, labor and construction supplies. 

“We estimate a completion date of Aug. 31 – that’s all three phases completed and the helistop useable,” Wilcox said.

The first phase includes the helistop footings and four large support columns. Phase two is the construction of the patient vestibule and pathway from the second floor exit out to the pad, and phase three is the placement of steel beams that will be fabricated to bolt across the columns and support the landing pad.

Facilities Director Elaine LaRochelle expressed her appreciation for everyone’s patience for any inconvenience during the summer, promising the biggest impact to parking –- which is already at a premium on the landlocked campus –- will be on hospital employees, not patients and visitors.

“We have not eliminated any patient or visitor parking places, although customer parking for the Business Office had to be relocated to the east side of the north wing in order to avoid the construction site,” said LaRochelle.

“Construction of an on-campus helistop will enhance patient outcomes by providing rapid air transport to an appropriate facility,” said Carl Bond, senior director of clinical services, who oversees all construction for the corporation. 

The raised pad design and on-campus location allow the helicopter access to a more direct route in and out of the hospital for those emergency patients needing air ambulance transport to tertiary facilities, such as OHSU in Portland or Saint Alphonsus in Boise, Idaho.

The hospital anticipates approximately 350 rotor wing transports will occur each year.  This more efficient and rapid response for transport of certain cardiac, stroke, and trauma patients will significantly improve patient medical outcomes. 

“For example, stroke patients have about three hours to get to a facility that is equipped with the specialists and technology to reverse the damage process,” explained Doug Romer, executive director of patient care services. “Patients with certain types of heart attacks have 90 minutes to get to where they need to be. Time lost for stroke and cardiac patients often means brain and heart muscle loss.”

He added, “We’ve never had a permanent rotor wing air ambulance in the community. Now that we do, this helistop will shave precious minutes off the transport time we are currently experiencing. There is only one reason we are building a helistop at Grande Ronde Hospital. We want to do the best thing possible for our patients.”