Two sites considered for helipad |

Two sites considered for helipad

Sally Taylor

Barton Memorial Hospital officials expect to begin construction on a new helipad when the building season begins in May.

Two alternative sites have been identified and will be presented within the month to staff at the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, according to Larry Mandel, Barton’s director of engineering. He declined to give details on the location of the sites near the hospital.

“We don’t believe TRPA (review) will be an issue,” said Barton Chief Executive Officer Bill Gordon. “They have always been willing to work with the hospital.”

Following TRPA review, a plans for a new pad will be designed at one of the sites and construction should begin in May.

“It will happen this summer,” Mandel said.

Barton administration began looking for an alternative helipad site in October after the California Department of Transportation ordered a stop to landings at the current site. An operating permit for the pad had never been issued by Caltrans due to inadequate landing clearance.

Helicopters had been landing at the helipad at least 15 years while the current Barton administration said it was unaware it did not have the appropriate permit.

“No one here was aware there was an issue,” Gordon, who joined the hospital administration in 1989, told the Tribune shortly after receiving the Caltrans stop order.

For a few weeks following the order, helicopters landed at the airport and patients were transported to or from the hospital by ambulance.

An emergency-use permit, issued by the city and authorized in Caltrans regulations, allows continued use of the helipad for one year.

“It’s sure better for patient care,” said Gordon referring to the time saved when emergency helicopters land at the hospital.

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