Floyd Medical Center will construct a $4 million helipad for air ambulances at the North Second Avenue entrance to the hospital’s Emergency Care Center (ECC) as the hospital continues to enhance its trauma services. The expenditure was approved Monday by the Floyd Healthcare Management Inc. board.
The raised helipad will have direct elevator access to ECC trauma bays and will allow ambulances and other first-responder vehicles to pass and park beneath to access the ECC. Clarence “Mac” McKemie, M.D., Floyd’s Trauma Medical Director, made the case for the raised helipad citing faster access to treatment and the trauma center’s large service area.
“The helipad will give air ambulance patients quick, direct access to the region’s only Level II Trauma Center,” Dr. McKemie said. “Time is important in a trauma situation, and Floyd has committed the resources to bring the very best in facilities and resources to our community.”
“Our expert trauma consultants strongly recommended that we have an on-campus helipad for our now-heightened capabilities in trauma,” said Ken Jones, M.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer. “Floyd is the only Level II Trauma Center for the entire region, and we are committing resources to serve the entire region. This is a long-term investment that will pay off long into the future. With the program enhancements we have put into place, Floyd has the highest trauma capabilities in our region.”
Floyd Medical Center is the only Level II Trauma Center in Georgia EMS Region 1, which covers 16 Georgia counties over 5,439 square miles. Floyd also is recognized within the Alabama trauma system, and provides service to four Alabama counties.
The total population served by Floyd’s trauma center is 1.37 million people. There are no Level I Trauma Centers in the region.
The helipad is the result of an ongoing analysis to identify opportunities to bring enhanced trauma services to the communities served by Floyd. Expert trauma service consultants and members of Atrium Health’s leadership team have endorsed the project.
Floyd is not seeking to establish or recruit an air ambulance service to be based here, said Kurt Stuenkel, Floyd President and CEO. “The helipad will be used by already-established air ambulances to provide quick access to the region’s highest level of trauma services. In essence, we are relocating the helipad we currently use from Riverside Parkway to the trauma center.”
An on-campus helipad will provide faster time to definitive treatment, improving patient outcomes, according to Dr. McKemie. The current helipad used by Floyd is 1.5 miles away from the Level II Trauma Center and requires the transfer of patients by ambulance from the helipad to the trauma center.
“We know that, in the past, many trauma patients have been sent out of our region, bypassing Floyd for other trauma centers. This is, in part, due to the need to transport patients by ambulance from the helipad to the ECC,” Dr. Jones said. “The on-campus helipad will allow us to take patients straight from the helicopter to our trauma bay.”
An onsite helipad also will benefit patients having a cardiac or neurological event, Dr. McKemie said.
Floyd Medical Center was the first designated trauma center in Georgia. It has maintained that designation for 40 years.