Helipad at Meritus temporarily shut down for maintenance

February 23, 2011

The helipad at Meritus Medical Center was temporarily shut down to medical helicopters this week while maintenance crews repaired chipped paint, hospital spokeswoman Nicole Jovel said.

The landing pad at the facility east of Hagerstown was closed from 5 p.m. Tuesday until 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jovel said.

 During that time, a Maryland State Police helicopter touched down on a snow-covered patch of ground on hospital property to practice landing in case patients had to be flown there.

"It was just testing an alternate landing site," Jovel said.

She said officials originally wanted to set up a substitute landing site on property near the Army Reserve building at the corner of Franklin and Willard streets in Hagerstown, but decided to bring it closer to the hospital.

State police aerial units surveyed the area Wednesday to find alternate landing zones, state police spokeswoman Elena Russo said.

One of the potential landing zones that was considered was a portion of the hospital's parking lot.

"Luckily, there have been no (state police) flights to Meritus Medical Center," Russo said.

Jovel said she didn't know why hospital officials decided to paint the helipad on the same day that a winter storm dumped 4 inches of snow on the Hagerstown area.

— By Dan Dearth

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