The Atrium Health Center — Mason is on target to open this spring but one piece of the preliminary plan will be missing.
Premier Health’s original hope for the 13-bed, freestanding emergency center was to install a helipad outside for the network’s CareFlight helicopters to transport out patients requiring a higher-level trauma center.
But Mason City Council unanimously rejected the revised preliminary development plan at a meeting earlier this month.
In a public hearing prior to the vote, Carol Turner, president and CEO of Atrium Medical Center, urged council members that helipads are an “industry best practice” at emergency centers. She said most all area hospitals, including Atrium, West Chester Hospital and Mercy Health — Fairfield Hospital, have helipads.
“And there’s a reason why they have it; they handle on a daily basis life-and-death situations,” Turner said, referring to issues such as massive heart attacks and strokes. “Minutes may mean the difference between a full recovery and someone left with permanent physical or mental deficits.”
The 44,000-square-foot medical facility located at 7450 Mason-Montgomery Road is currently being renovated to include 16,000 square feet for emergency services, as well as OB/GYN and primary care offices, physical therapy, cardiology, lab and X-ray, according to Turner.
Employees with Premier Health said during the public hearing on Jan. 12 that medical helicopters would be used less than once a month at this medical facility. They also emphasized no road closures would be required, and the helicopter would not be parked outside but at the Warren County Airport.
“There will doubtless be interruptions to traffic flow,” said Councilman Donald Prince. “It just seems to me that this is the wrong place to be doing this. We’re trying to shoehorn something in … that would fit great in an industrial park. But putting it on four acres in a highly-developed area I think doesn’t make sense for the city of Mason.”
Attorney Jonathan D. Sams, representing nearby Manor House, was one of five people to speak against the proposed helipad. He said the coming and going of helicopters would “tarnish the reputation” of the Manor House, divert potential customers away and create hazards to the safety of its 100,000 annual guests and residents in the area.
“Premier Health is trying to do too much on this small lot and that makes it dangerous and unwise to bring a helicopter in this small and crowded area,” Sams said.
Despite nixed plans for a helipad on the site, Premier Health will still be able to land its medical helicopters on adjacent or nearby sites, such as parking lots at churches or schools, to then transport patients out.