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Heliport upgrades begin at hospital
East Kootenay Regional Hospital’s heliport is receiving approximately $450,000 in Interior Health funded upgrades to maintain an important transport link for patients of the region.
The hospital upgrades will increase the heliport size and elevate it to accommodate new Shock Trauma Air Rescue Society (STARS) helicopters.
“Interior Health relies on STARS helicopters to provide life-saving transport to critically ill or injured patients who need a higher level of care,” said Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett. “These upgrades will ensure that East Kootenay Regional Hospital’s heliport is equipped to accommodate the new, larger helicopters STARS will be using starting next year.”
In early 2014, STARS will move to new, larger AW 139 helicopters. These new helicopters will allow STARS to do transports across greater distances without refueling. Upgrades will ensure it meets Transport Canada standards for these larger helicopters.
“Interior Health is committed to getting patients the care they need in the right location as quickly as possible,” said IH Board Chair Norman Embree. “With our large geographic area, it is important for Interior Health to have different transport options available in the East Kootenay. STARS transfers, in addition to fixed wing and ground-based transport services through our High Acuity Response Team and BC Ambulance Services, support the network of services we provide.”
Last month, Kelowna-based Delnor Construction was awarded the contract for the heliport project through a public tender process.
Construction began September 9 and is expected to last six to eight weeks. Work includes expanding the current diametre of the heliport by approximately seven metres (from 19 metres to 26 metres) and raising it by about one metre.
During construction, air transfers will continue to take place from the Cranbrook Airport. Construction will not impact patient/visitor access to East Kootenay Regional Hospital or its services.