Helipad celebrated by hospital and community
Mercy Hospital Cassville opened a new helipad with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and blessing on June 13.
The event took place at the site of the new helipad, which is located just north of the hospital near the emergency room, and included hospital staff and executives as well as community members and dignitaries from companies and organizations that helped complete the project.
Doug Stroemel, president of Mercy Hospital Aurora and Cassville, explained that the new helipad replaced an existing pad that had been located across the street and up the hill from the hospital for the last 25 years.
"It has been a concern of ours that in order to transport a patient from the emergency room we needed an ambulance," Stroemel said.
According to Stroemel, the hospital would have to call an ambulance, load the patient from the hospital, drive the patient to the helipad and unload the patient. Stroemel said the entire process took up precious time that is important when transporting a critical patient.
"There have been rare occasions," Stroemel said, "where we haven't had an ambulance, and our staff has had to push the patient through the hospital, across the street and up the hill."
Stroemel said that the hospital currently averages about seven flights a month, with most of the transports going to Springfield. However, Stroemel does not expect an increase in transports but says having the helipad will improve transport times and patient safety. Echoing concern for patient safety was Emily Jackson, executive assistant Mercy Hospital Cassville.
"This is such an important step for our community hospital," Jackson said. "This will improve the safety of patients tremendously."
In Mercy tradition, the ribbon cutting and blessing ceremony began with an opening prayer from Mercy Chaplain Tom Gripka.
During the event, Stroemel joked about the process of making the helipad FAA compliant.
"You would not believe how much planning and design it takes to put a slab of concrete in your backyard," Stroemel said.
Blessing of the helipad was conducted by Father John Braun, of St. Edwards Catholic Church in Cassville. Companies and individuals responsible for the completion of the helipad were also recognized and thanked.
Mercy Hospital personnel recognized were: Michelle Schaeffer, senior vice president of regional operations; D.J. Satterfield and flight crew; Mike Epley, director of maintenance and plant services; Steve Fowler, director of admissions services; and Tiffany Means, emergency room director.
Community members recognized for their part in the project were: Jared Rasmussen with Olsson Associates; Rick Mckaslin, general contractor with Dewitt; Couch Excavating; Bill Shiveley with Barry Electric; and David Cole, president of South Barry County Hospital District board.
"It's so exciting to be part of this process from start to finish," Jackson said.
Stroemel closed the ceremony with a quote from Mercy's founder Sister Catherine McAuley. "Only the best for those entrusted to our care," and Stroemel said if McAuley had been present to see the new helipad, she would be pleased.