Temporary Aero Med Helistop In Grand Rapids Announced

Will Be Primary Transfer Site Until Butterworth Hospital Helistop Ready

Spectrum Health announced today that it will use a temporary site in northeast Grand Rapids for transferring patients from Aero Med helicopters to Butterworth Hospital. Aero Med will begin using the site some time after August 1.

The helistop is located at 522 Plymouth NE, in an industrial area between Michigan Street and Interstate 196. It is in the rear of a parking lot Spectrum Health purchased and is the former site of Spectrum Industries. Aero Med has been landing at the airport and transporting patients by ambulance to Butterworth Hospital since the helicopter accident on May 29.

Spectrum Health executives have been in ongoing communications with city officials since the accident. They recently discussed the temporary site.  Spectrum Health leadership met with neighborhood and business groups on July 28 as a courtesy to share information and answer questions.

“We have looked for ways to expedite the transport of critical patients to our level one trauma center and intensive care areas since Aero Med returned to service after the accident,” said Ralph Rogers, MD, medical director of Aero Med. “This location allows for faster patient transport and has several pluses. We can approach along 196 minimizing the disruption to neighborhoods and it’s a quick drive down Michigan Street to the hospital. Also it’s located in one of our parking lots, which allows us to control access.”

The location on Plymouth Street is considered temporary because Spectrum Health executives have committed to reopening the helistop on the roof of Butterworth Hospital. Spectrum Health continues to evaluate options to upgrade and improve the site. Final plans are not complete and a timeline for the project has not been established.

A temporary helistop is a permitted use of this site according to Grand Rapids city ordinance. The helistop area will be fenced off, and lighting will be added as well as fire suppression equipment. Spectrum Health security will be present whenever a helicopter lands.

According to the Federal Aviation Administration, a helistop is an area used or intended to be used for the landing and takeoff of helicopters engaged in dropping off or picking up passengers. A helipad is a surface used for parking helicopters and refueling. Helicopters at both of these sites will remain there only as long as it takes to transfer patients. It will not be used for the parking or refueling of helicopters.

Spectrum Health is a not-for-profit health system in West Michigan that offers a full continuum of care through its seven hospitals, more than 140 service sites and 560,000-member health plan, Priority Health.  Spectrum Health’s 14,000 employees, 1,500 medical staff members and 2,000 volunteers are committed to delivering the highest quality care to those in medical need.  The organization provided $98.6 million in community benefit during its 2007 fiscal year. Spectrum Health has earned nearly 70 national awards during the past 10 years.