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Palo Verde Valley Blythe/Quartzsite Times | Blythe, California and Quartzsite, Arizona

home : opinions : columns October 19, 2014


2/21/2013 5:00:00 PM
TIMES EDITORIAL: Conflicts at Palo Verde Hospital will soon cost someone their life
Palo Verde Healthcare District Board President Trina Sartin is also the owner of Desert Air Ambulance service.
Palo Verde Healthcare District Board President Trina Sartin is also the owner of Desert Air Ambulance service.

When it came to firing Palo Verde Hospital CEO Peter Klune a few short weeks back, Board President Trina Sartin had no problem calling a special meeting that her board cronies, Sam Burton and Sandy Hudson, endorsed. It was a personal vendetta for them, something they made no secret of.

It was also no problem for the same three board members to hand out almost half a million dollars of taxpayer money to Klune, because it wasn't coming out of the pockets of any of them and in actuality, benefited Sartin's Desert Air Ambulance service by keeping him from pursuing a contract with a helicopter service that could provide much faster transport time than her business can.

But now that the hospital has received a cease and desist letter from Caltrans stating that helicopters can no longer land at the hospital, no one has called for a special meeting or even noted the crisis on any regular meeting agenda. That's because it's not a crisis for Sartin, Burton and Hudson; it's money in the bank.

With the cost of improvements to bring the helipad into compliance estimated to be a mere $50,000, some $420,000 less than what Sartin, Burton and Hudson voted to give Klune, one has to wonder who benefits most from keeping a helicopter from landing at Palo Verde Hospital - because it certainly isn't the patients who need emergency services.

The clearest answer we can see is Board President Sartin and her domestic partner and Desert Air co-owner, Jeff Gatchell. Gatchell's also the fixed base operator at the Blythe Airport, basically the one in charge of the airport and charging those who land there. Do the conflicts get any more apparent than this?

It's a win-win for these two in that without a helipad they get more ground-ambulance transports to the airport and more flights out as well.

For the rest of the residents of the Palo Verde Valley though, it's a lose-lose.

Residents lose out on a helicopter transport that is much faster than an airplane when making the short jump to the Coachella Valley. A helicopter, under normal circumstances, goes from hospital to hospital while airplane transport involves hospital to airport to airport to hospital, loading and unloading.

This is unacceptable to those who may have a family member who needs critical care where every minute counts. Whose mother, father or child in our community has to die before these board members wake up and realize what they are costing this commuity?

Sartin's continuous whine about her concern for patient care has turned out to be doublespeak in its purest form. Sartin's actions show she cares little about patient care but rather how much Desert Air can profit while she serves as a board member and board president. In the few short months she has served on the board her every move has seemed to benefit her and her company, not the residents who voted for her or against her.

With Burton and Hudson joining her hand-in-hand in the destruction of the local emergency services infrastructure that has existed since the 1970s, all for the benefit of themselves and their friends, Palo Verde Hospital is clearly on a course of failure and it's just a matter of time before it costs someone their life.

If the agenda of vengeance and personal financial gain for these three continues much longer, it will only be a matter of time before someone dies, suffers serious injury, or the hospital closes its doors forever.



Related Stories:
• TIMES EDITORIAL: The truth of what's happening at Palo Verde Hospital is becoming apparent
• TIMES EDITORIAL: It's not all bad news; in fact it's mostly good news
• TIMES EDITORIAL: No justice for the residents of Blythe and the valley
• Court grants Sahlolbei demurrer and motion to strike
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Hospital's new interim-CEO might be too ethical to last
• City Council hopes to work with hospital on helicopter issue
• TIMES EDITORIAL: No end in sight to Palo Verde Hospital drama
• Desert Air official fought to halt emergency helicopters from landing at hospital
• Hospital board dismisses interim-CEO and Chief Nursing Officer
• Hospital attorneys ask court to dismiss Sahlolbei's federal suit
• Emergency transport helicopters to be banned from landing at hospital
• TIMES EDITORIAL: District Attorney Paul Zellberbach owes Blythe more than an apology

Related Links:
• Former DA warns board members of potential conflicts
• Hospital Board voids meeting citing Brown Act violations
• TIMES EDITORIAL: Let's get bids on hospital services and then make a decision


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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Itachi Uchiha

You ask:
Why didn't the previous board close the helicopter pad if they knew it was out of compliance?

I answer:
Why close the helicopter pad if it is making money? If it's making money for a company in the "red" then there's no reason to stop/close it.

I'm pretty sure the helicopter pilots flying these medic-choppers have landed in more desolate and dangerous locations. Most of these pilots are military-veterans. Landing in a war zone is a LOT trickier (I'm guessing) than landing the PVH parking lot.

"If it ain't broke, why fix it?"


Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: @@ Fed Up

An un-encumbered CEO COULD have done it, and, I believe WOULD have, but the micro-managing Dr. put a stop to it, as usual, because it wasn't in the Dr.'s best interests. It took him a time to get his feet on the ground, to really see the truth, and then, as he was able to do something, they whacked him off with all the trash they have in abundance. The "blame" game, mastered by our beloved president is masterfully used here, too. Be careful of it.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Heliprort Exemptions

NOTE Exemption Number (8)!

Heliport Permitting
Permit Exemptions
Pursuant to PUC 21662 and CCR 3533, the following types of heliports are exempt from State Heliport Permit
requirements:
1) Airports owned or operated by the United States Government.
2) Agricultural heliports
-
Airports restricted to use only by agricultural aerial applicator aircraft (FAR Part 137
operators).
3) Seaplane landing sites (for helicopters).
4) Personal
-
use heliports in unincorporated areas which meet the requirements of Article 5 of CCR 3560.
5) "Grandfathered" heliports which were established and are currently being used under an exemption granted under
previous Department regulations. These heliports shall continue to be exempt, provided the use and conditions of the
exemption continue to be met. These heliports shall be marked in accordance with CCR 3560(e).
6) Heliports established on offshore oil platforms.
7) Temporary helicopter landing sites that are not within 1000 feet of the boundary of a public or private school
maintaining kindergarten classes or any classes in grades 1 through 12 (see
California Heliport Definitions
).
8) Emergency medical services (EMS) landing sites (see
California Heliport Definitions
).
9) Emergency use facilities (see
California Heliport Definitions
).

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/planning/aeronaut/helipads/documents/heliport_permit_exemptions.pdf


Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

Does Gofer really believe the twins and their Patron are so hateful because their "heads are so full of ignorance"? See his Facebook post today.

Posted: Wednesday, February 27, 2013
Article comment by: Phantom Nose

The Police Chief won't do anything without the City Manager's approval. The City Manager has a financial stake in Desert Air. (deleted) Follow the money.

Site Administrator's note: A portion of this comment has been removed because it violated our Terms of use Agreement.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Fed Up

Caltrans Heliport permiting exemptions.

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: @ fed up

If it is just that simple and easy why did the last board not go do it? Why do those in favor of an exclusive keep talking about having the helicopter company pay to make the helipad compliant? One way or another someone is full of bull. So who is it?

Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Is this true Fed Up

Please provide information to support you comment, because if this is true we need to start looking at the City to see make sure this is resolved in the interim.
And if not look into the conflict that may exist between City manager and Desert Air.


Posted: Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Article comment by: Fed Up

All that needs to happen is a letter from the Police chief stating to Caltrans that the current LZ is needed for EMS purposes. That's it. It would then be allowed to have landings continue like they have been for the last 30 years. Where is the Chief in this matter?

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2013
Article comment by: Bob Pratt

PVVT If you owned the newspaper (emphasis on if) would you continue to employee a manager who shows to numbers and claims to have improve the financial well-being? Of course you would. Now you find out that, in fact, the company debt has doubled. A smart person would respond with "adios, farewell, and good-bye". One of the most sought after accountants in the world applied for a job with a global corporation and was asked to interpret and explain a set of numbers. His reply was simple, "What do you want them to mean?" Sounds a little like a reporting style we are all becoming familiar with.

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: FAA Records

Really? Is Jeff really talking about the safety aspects of landing and taking off? The FAA has at least two incidents for Desert Air - one in San Diego and the one here in Blythe where the pilot didn't use the landing gear and the propellors of both engines looked like swastika symbols after they hit the ground while moving. Really Jeff? What a sad, sad way to try to create wealth for yourself - at the expense of people's lives!!!!!

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Crazy Town

Local resident, I don't think most on here hate anyone. What's that saying, "hate the game, not the player". It stinks is why people are upset. The only ones making it personal are the ones throwing their weight around that hospital and putting our people's lives in danger. It's personal when you stand to gain from decisions you are in charge of making and shouldn't be. How hard is that? I don't care how much Trina and Sandy care about the patients, they both stand to gain from being on the board, it shouldn't be allowed. There only has to be the appearance of a conflict of interest to get a judicial recusal. You don't even have to have a conflict, just the APPEARANCE of one, I think this meets those standards. Although this isn't a court of law, the same standards should apply. People's lives are at stake.

I don't think the good doctor will get away with it, someone will make sure the proper authorities are notified. What he was doing was unethical, and should be illegal.

@just me~What sort of other air transports were being done other than helicopters? Were they landing Jeff's plane in the hospital parking lot? I'm sure I would have heard of it. Oh I know, you are saying they were using the helicopter when the transport wasn't critical, therefore the plane should have been used? I'm not getting your point. There is so much corruption in this town it's suffocating. Ugh!


Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: Susan Heath

Seriously Blythe community....I dont really care what anyone on this earth thinks about Desert Air Ambulance or the owners....I know that if it had not been for Jeff and Trina that I would have lost my wonderful husband five years earlier than I did...so say what you want but there are some of us here who truly appreciate the care and support that these "horrible people" have provided for our families...and dont even get me started on slamming someone as loving and giving as Sam Burton...am I biased, you bet...but hey, thats what makes america so wonderful...the right to say what we feel...so God bless everyone of us here in this little town and please Lord let Desert Air Ambulance be there for me if I ever need it...just saying

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: just me@just me

In answer to your question have I ever been around to watch the helicopters land at the hospital..Yes I've only watched them land and take off for 39 years,not one time did I ever feel I or my children were in harms way...The helicopter never displayed a problem in good or bad weather...Think about it what are the chances of Trina's or any other plane for that matter being able to land any where while in flight due to engine failure not good..A helicopter can sit down pretty much any where safely.I know they can go down to..So all can fly the way they wan't I plan on and will fight to go first class via helicopter..really she couldn't pay me to ride in her plane under her care...

Posted: Saturday, February 23, 2013
Article comment by: @Edward Murrow

You are really funny, man. Why go to a board meeting? You can get the info on tape? Besides, with the way your meetings are run - with no holds barred, where anybody can say anything, for as long as they want (that is, if they spew the (deleted) party line - the hate slop would be open season on the Times. Contrary to YOUR feeble opinion, the Times is not stupid. "Freedom of speech" is dead in your meetings. Various ways of intimidation have been and will be used with your kind of methods.


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