Hospital to dedicate new helicopter pad Wednesday

January 18, 2014
Aeromed makes frequent trips to Mason County.

Aeromed makes frequent trips to Mason County.

LUDINGTON — The new helicopter landing site at Spectrum Health Ludington Hospital will open Wednesday, January 22. The dedication will feature an inaugural fly-in by Aeromed, Spectrum Health’s air ambulance service, and presentation of a $50,000 check by hospital volunteers.

The donation represents the first payment on a $125,000 pledge the volunteers made to the hospital’s “Building Exceptional Health Care” expansion project. $100,000 of the pledge finances the helicopter landing facility, with the remaining $25,000 dedicated to the family consult room In the new emergency department.

Since 2008 the hospital has based its air ambulance flights at the Ludington airport, after the previous landing site was determined to be too close to overhead power lines. The current arrangement requires patients to be transported between the hospital and helicopter by ambulance. The new site will eliminate that extra time to get patients the treatment they need.

“We greatly appreciate the work of our volunteers to fund the return of air ambulance service to the hospital campus,” said President Mark Vipperman. “Their contribution helps to ensure the fastest possible treatment for critically ill and injured patients.”

“While use of the local airport has been effective, direct air transport at the hospital is clearly the optimal service,” added William Kokx, DO, medical director for the emergency department. “We’re pleased to resume direct transports from the hospital.”

The new facility is officially designated a “helistop” in Federal Aviation Administration terminology, which means a dedicated area for safe helicopter landings and take offs, but without the additional lighting, fueling and other embellishments that define a “helipad” or “heliport.”

Also on view when the hospital helistop opens will be new gates that will close the access road adjacent to the landing area during helicopter ground operations.

“Seeing this service resume is a tremendously satisfying achievement for our volunteers,” said volunteer board chair Candy Fabaz. “We realize this is a vital life-saving service for many patients, and we thank the many people in the community who have supported our fundraising efforts.”

Volunteer board member Penny Henderson will join Fabaz in presenting the donation check.  She has been one of the leading advocates for the new helicopter facility and worked tirelessly on the volunteer “Art at Rest” fundraiser to benefit the helistop project. Henderson’s nephew, Sean Gillett, has needed air ambulance transport multiple times and the family has strongly supported creation of a new landing facility on the hospital campus.

The volunteers raise funds throughout the year to benefit the hospital and its patients. They operate the new gift shop in the hospital lobby, and hold the annual “Art at Rest” auction, vendor sales and other activities.


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