Helistop improves health care

By Observer editorial December 08, 2012 09:34 am

One of the great joys of the Grande Ronde Valley is that it is a long way from Boise and Portland. It’s also one of the great pains.

That’s especially true when you’re a critically ill patient needing immediate surgery or highly specialized care available only at regional hospitals. These may include a near drowning, an accident victim with life-threatening injuries or a premature newborn. Better response time ensures the highest level of care without delays.

Now that the Grande Ronde Hospital’s helistop is up and running, the timing of such trips will be quicker than ever. And that will save lives.

Now the helicopters can fly directly from Grande Ronde Hospital to regional hospitals. There will be no need to take an ambulance ride to an awaiting aircraft, saving precious minutes when every minute counts.

The $1.2 million helistop will give the Life Flight A-Star helicopter started operating out of the La Grande Airport in June 2011. La Grande has had a plane for such transfers for many years, but the helicopter expanded the area’s ability to save lives in that it can land at accident sites on Interstate 84 or in the Blue and Wallowa mountains.

Before the helistop was built, the old helicopter landing was across the street at Central Elementary. That raised safety concerns both for patients and for students and staff.

Work began on the helistop project last May. The Life Flight Network’s involvement helped the project succeed, as well as the assistance of the City of La Grande, especially Building Inspector David Kloss.

Local contractors — Dan Davidson Construction Inc., DL Edmondson, Hampton Paving, Overton Electric, Barreto Manufacturing, Advanced Plumbing, Bagett, Griffith and Blackman, Anderson Perry, Stretch Masterson Floor Coverings, and Brooks Painting — were instrumental in making the project a success.

The Grande Ronde Hospital Foundation has raised funds for the project. Other gifts putting wind in the sails of the project were provided by the Saint Alphonsus Heath System of Boise, and generous legacy gifts were given by the estates of Glen and Jean McKenzie and Alex McKenzie.

Congratulations to Grande Ronde Hospital for getting this important project off the ground and for the lives it will save through quicker, more efficient service.