New helicopter pad coming to Mercy

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Democrat Photo/Lindsay Reed Landing pad nears completion Crews are working to complete a new helicopter landing pad on the north side of Mercy Hospital Cassville. The new landing site will be closer to the hospital's emergency room improving patient safety.

This summer, Mercy Hospital Cassville will complete a project that is designed to improve patient safety in the event of a helicopter transport to a neighboring facility.

"The helicopter pad here (on the hill across Gravel Street from the hospital) was constructed 25 years ago," said Doug Stroemel, Mercy Hospital Cassville and Aurora president. "At that time, it was the best location, but it is a long way from the current emergency room (ER)."

Due to the proximity of the helicopter landing pad from the emergency room, hospital employees currently call an ambulance to transport patients from the ER to the helicopter landing location.

"We load the patient into the ambulance and drive them up the hill to be placed into the helicopter," said Stroemel. "That takes extra time."

If an ambulance is not available for transport services, hospital staff members push the gurney through the hospital, across Gravel Street and up the hill to the landing pad.

"This is a safety concern," said Stroemel. "Sometimes they have to get patients to the helicopter in the rain, snow and cold. We felt it would be in the best interest of our patients and safety of our staff to move the landing location closer to the ER."

In the spring of 2012, Mercy Hospital Cassville began working on the project that would relocate the helicopter pad. The hospital acquired two properties on Gravel Street, a duplex and a daycare facility and worked with Olsson and Associates to complete the design and engineering for the project.

"There is a lot involved in a project like this," said Stroemel. "You must get FAA approval. You have to look at approach angles. We had to cut some trees. A lot of engineering went into the approach path, landing pad and safety lighting."

Lighting was added to several buildings located around the site of the new helicopter pad. Lights were installed on the hospital, near the ER and on the building that now houses the hospital's administrative offices, but was formerly used as a clinic.

In addition to extensive engineering, the project required the relocation of electric lines, telephone lines and cable lines in the area. The utility lines were all placed underground.

"Now we are in the construction phase," said Stroemel. "The new landing pad will be at least four times the size of the old one. This is a significant investment.

"One of the things we think of first and foremost in any planning is how we can improve services for our patients," continued Stroemel. "We feel this is a great investment in the community that we serve."

Stroemel hopes to see the new helicopter landing pad completed in early summer. When the project is complete, a sidewalk will extend to the new landing location, and fencing will be installed around the perimeter of the pad for community safety.

In addition to Olsson and Associates, Couch Excavation, Blevins Striping and DeWitt and Associates Construction have worked on the project.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: