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Hospital helipad closes temporarily for repairs

While repairs are made, helicopters will land instead at the U.S. Army Reserve Center at East Franklin and Willard streets.

While repairs are made, helicopters will land instead at the U.S. Army Reserve Center at East Franklin and Willard streets.

August 18, 2007|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Helicopters bringing patients to Hagerstown will be diverted from Washington County Hospital for at least two weeks while its rooftop helipad is being fixed.

"Two steel beams on the periphery of the helipad need reinforcement," hospital spokeswoman Nicole Jovel wrote in an e-mail response to questions from The Herald-Mail.

While repairs are made, helicopters will land instead at a helipad at the U.S. Army Reserve Center at East Franklin and Willard streets, about a mile from the hospital.

Patient care will not be affected, Jovel wrote.

In her e-mail on Friday afternoon, she wrote that there had been two helicopter landings at the reserve center since the hospital closed its helipad on Wednesday.

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On Friday night, there was another. It was a STAT MedEvac helicopter that came from York, Pa., to pick up a patient from Washington County Hospital.

The Hagerstown Fire Department was at the scene, which is the protocol for all landings while the hospital helipad is out of commission.

A Community Rescue Service ambulance transported the patient on Friday night from the hospital to the reserve center helipad.

CRS will respond to the alternate landing site whenever a patient is flown into Hagerstown, said Dave Hays, the assistant chief at CRS.

Washington County Hospital will pay CRS for the extra work.

"We have reached an agreement with CRS to compensate them to allow for staffing an extra unit to handle the additional calls," Jovel wrote.

Hays said CRS occasionally has responded to calls at the alternate landing zone, but never for a long stretch.

"It could tie us up several times a day," he said.

Asked if the hospital could approximate how many additional calls CRS might run, Jovel reviewed helicopter records from this month.

Between Aug. 1 and 8, she wrote, 13 helicopters used the hospital's helipad.

The hospital's executive of facilities discovered the problem with the hospital's helipad during an inspection on Monday, according to Jovel.

"At this time, we are still defining the scope of the project and working on pricing estimates," she wrote.

Jovel added that the hospital would not need to repair its current helipad if it had been able to build a new hospital by now.

The hospital's attempt to build a new facility on Robinwood Drive has been tied up by a court challenge working its way through the appellate system.

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