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Medina helipad may be ready by the end of the week

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 October 2013 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers – Pictured today at a ground-breaking for Medina Memorial Hospital’s new helipad include, from left: Randy Neiswonger, MMH chief operating officer and chief nursing officer; Dolores Horvath, MMH interim CEO; Ruth Bane, a member of the Orleans Community Health Foundation board; Jill Bakeman, Foundation executive director; Medina firefighter Jonathan Higgins; and Jennifer Hill and Art Hill of Art Hill Excavation.

MEDINA – It was about two months ago when Jonathan Higgins went to introduce himself to Dolores Horvath, the newly hired interim CEO for Medina Memorial Hospital.

Higgins, a Medina firefighter, wanted to meet the new CEO and also pitch a plan about a new paved helipad.

Higgins and Medina firefighters often help transport critically injured patients from an ambulance to a Mercy Flight helicopter that lands in a field next to the intersection of Ohio and North Academy streets. The grass field often has been muddy, or firefighters might have to lift the stretcher over a snow bank.

Higgins and the Fire Department told Horvath they could line up donations to reduce the cost of a paved pad for helicopters. Horvath gave the $25,000 project her blessing. None of costs will come out of the hospital’s budget.

Higgins and the fire department lined up about $15,000 worth of donations or discounted services and materials. The Orleans Community Health Foundation contributed the other $10,000.

“This will just be wonderful for the patients of Orleans County,” Horvath said today following a ground-breaking ceremony for the helipad.

The new helipad includes a driveway so ambulances can pull off the street to move patients.

Art Hill Excavation of Medina is building the 40-by-40-foot helipad, which includes a curb cut and 80-foot-long driveway. The company donated an interwoven geo-technical fabric that went above the soil. Then about 8 inches of a stone base has been applied. Art Hill Excavation expects to add the binder and the black top this week to complete the project.

Shelby Stone and Keeler Construction also contributed materials for the project.

Art Hill Excavation was eager to help with the project, said company owner Jennifer Hill.

“These are the most critical patients,” she said about the patients that use Mercy Flight. “You want to help them out.”

Higgins said a helicopter transports patients about 50 times a year from the spot. Not only is the field sometimes muddy or covered in snow, but firefighters had to stop their ambulance on Ohio Street to then move patients to the helicopter. Now the ambulance can pull off the street and on the driveway leading to the helipad.

“It’s been fairly unsafe,” Higgins said. “This is a busy street and people would get distracted looking at the helicopter.”