Helicopters are once again landing at Vancouver Coastal Health’s (VCH) St. Mary’s Hospital; its upgraded heliport reopened on June 9, 2014. With Transport Canada’s recent inspection and approval of the $175,000 in upgrades funded by the provincial government, the heliport will transport patients for a range of critical- care needs.
“VCH worked closely with Transport Canada, the provincial government and the Sechelt Indian Band to ensure the heliport would meet the required standards and be up and running as soon as possible,” said Lauren Tindall, Director, Sunshine Coast. “In the interim, we were fortunate to have the use of the heliport at the nearby Sechelt Airport, so that patient care was not affected.”
The heliport has been closed since 2010 due to the renovation and reconstruction of St. Mary’s Hospital, as well as Transport Canada compliance issues around traffic control design. Upgrades to the heliport included the removal of trees along the flight path, which crosses Sechelt Indian Band land, and the installation of traffic control measures along the road surrounding the heliport to ensure pedestrian safety.
St. Mary’s staff and visitors will be required to follow new traffic control measures when a helicopter is landing or taking off. These new measures will include flashing lights and a traffic/pedestrian barricade that is designed to protect those on the ground as well as those in the helicopter.
“We want to thank the public for their patience,” Tindall said. “We needed to make sure the work was complete and up to Transport Canada’s standards. I think the wait has worth it.”
Since 2011, close to 350 St. Mary’s Hospital patients have been safely transported via helicopter.