Minutes can cost a lifetime.
At times, even a short delay can mean the difference between life and death. Having faster access to a lifeline is critical.
Before the end of 2012, that access will be enhanced for patients at South Georgia Medical Center when the new $225,000 helipad becomes operational. Emergency helicopters, commonly referred to as LifeFlights, will be able to land directly at the hospital, close to the entrance of the emergency department, to transport patients to other facilities.
Bill Forbes, chief planning officer, says that currently patients needing a higher level of care must be put into an ambulance and transported to the Valdosta Regional Airport to be placed on a helicopter.
“By bringing the helicopters directly to the hospital, it gives our patients access to the care they need that much quicker,” Forbes said.
Level One Trauma Centers in Macon and Atlanta, as well as specialty facilities such as Shands in Gainesville or Jacksonville, Fla., are generally the destinations for patients whose illnesses or injuries fall outside the scope of the services offered at SGMC.
Forbes said Augusta’s burn center is often a destination, but added that Augusta typically sends its own planes rather than helicopters because they can travel greater distances.
The helipad foundation has been poured across a small parking lot close to the emergency department, and Forbes said some realignment will also take place to ensure that patients can be transported quickly and safely to the helicopter.
The helipad is 88-by-88 feet with a six-foot concrete slab to accommodate both the wingspan and the weight of the aircraft.
“It can handle a 10,000-pound helicopter,” said Forbes, “and all of the transport services in the region have said that is more than adequate for their needs.”
SGMC does not own or operate the helicopters, which are private transport services.
“They bill insurance, Medicare and Medicaid just like we do, and they also experience some losses,” he said.
The services are based within a 50-mile radius with none currently in Valdosta, but Forbes said there is some discussion about a company locating at the Valdosta Regional Airport in the future.
Forbes said that although SGMC would accept in-coming patients if necessary, typically patients are flying out, not in. The hospital has considered upgrading to a Level One Trauma Center, but the expense of the added services that must be in place to do so has so far made that cost-prohibitive.
It will still be several weeks before the helipad becomes fully operational as Forbes said there are numerous regulatory issues associated with it.
“We are working with the FAA (Federal Aviation Association) because we have to have two clear flight patterns, one for incoming flights and one for outgoing. We also have to have special landing lights, radio frequencies, etc.”
Forbes said bringing the flights directly to the hospital is a patient-safety issue for SGMC.
“It will enhance the care we can provide for our patients.”
Minutes can cost a lifetime.
- Local News
Brooks County's Parrish in Rivals Top 100
Brooks County rising senior Malkolm Parrish is ranked the 73rd best high school football prospect in the nation, according to the release of the Rivals.com Top 100.
Woman fights to live after cancer
To be whole again, the desire that sometimes overwhelms chair-bound Mandy Painter, fuels the Realtor each day through walking lessons during physical therapy and it's also what could see her through a cutting-edge program in Boston, where world-class neurologists can reawaken her cerebellum and see the mother of three to her feet again.
North Ashley Street closed following accident
A Sport Utility Vehicle traveling north on North Ashley Street drove into a telephone pole Monday morning, resulting in the closure of the road.
Gornto extension half complete
The Gornto Road extension project is more than half-way complete, and could be finished ahead of the one-year deadline contractors were given when the project was approved Oct. 11 by the Valdosta City Council.
Nashville honors history, musical tradition
There were more than a few Nashville residents and guests from out of town fiddlin’ around Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the Georgia Humanities Council and Smithsonian New Harmonies exhibit, celebrating roots music from the state and across the Deep South.
Locals, out-of-towners come out for food, fun at Peach Festival
The Morven Peach Festival drew a smaller crowd than usual in its 26th year, but planners weren't complaining.
Coliform found in drinking water
The cause of a water quality issue is still under investigation by the City of Valdosta Utilities Department after a water sample taken from a line in the area near the intersection of St. Augustine Road and West Hill Avenue tested positive for coliform bacteria.
The Big One: Preparing for mid-America earthquake
It’s a bleak scenario. A massive earthquake along the New Madrid fault kills or injures 60,000 people in Tennessee. A quarter of a million people are homeless. The Memphis airport — the country’s biggest air terminal for packages — goes off-line. Major oil and gas pipelines across Tennessee rupture, causing shortages in the Northeast. In Missouri, another 15,000 people are hurt or dead. Cities and towns throughout the central U.S. lose power and water for months. Losses stack up to hundreds of billions of dollars.
Preparing South Georgia for a disaster
A pair of specialized urban rescuers shed some of their protective gear for a moment and exchange relieved smiles because, on the roads across the swamps of residential rubble, a caravan of Lowndes citizens returns to a county that, according to Lowndes officials, was able to repair its wounds in the aftermath of a Category 5 storm due to a dynamic package of disaster plans.
Valdosta police honor Moody security force
Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress awarded a set of challenge coins Friday to 12 members of Moody Air Force Base’s security forces. The coin ceremony served as a thank-you from the Valdosta Police Department for the base’s operational support in handling bomb threats and helping in community matters.
- More Local News Headlines
- Brooks County's Parrish in Rivals Top 100