Taking health care to the air

April 28, 2016

LifeFlight Dedication Ribbon Cutting 04.21.16

When patients at community hospitals are suffering from life-threatening conditions such as trauma, heart attacks or strokes, they often need to be transferred to another hospital with greater resources for care, and it’s imperative that the transfer be made quickly. At Klickitat Valley Health (KVH) in Goldendale, this often means transport by way of the LifeFlight helicopter service to Portland, Ore., where more resources await.

Upon hitting what staff call “the easy button” in the ER, the flight crew is activated and the helicopter can reach KVH in as quickly as 20 minutes. But then comes an unexpected hurdle: there’s no place to land. Until this spring, KVH relied on the ability to quickly transform its parking lot into a helipad by making an announcement inside the hospital to clear cars out of the way. In the event that a car couldn’t be moved, it would be towed. On average, the whole process had to be done almost once a week.

However, KVH recently finished work on a helipad that will make the process of landing a helicopter at the hospital quicker, easier and — perhaps most importantly —safer. By having a dedicated helipad, pilots have a clear flight path and don’t need to wait for cars to be moved. The landing platform is also level with better lighting, and it now sits just outside the entrance to the emergency department.

The hospital held a ribbon-cutting for the helipad April 21, celebrating the new service as well as the generous gifts that helped the hospital construct it. The KVH Memorial Foundation — a non-profit organization created to assist the hospital through charitable and fundraising outreaches — contributed $32,000 toward the project. In all, the helipad was two years in the making.

Expediting the process of transferring patients to a larger hospital can save lives, and it is an example of one of the many ways Washington’s Critical Access Hospitals are innovating to improve their care. Click here to read more about the helipad ribbon cutting in this article in the Goldendale Sentinel. (Tim Pfarr)


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