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4/18/2013 5:00:00 PM
Healthcare District Board votes to file application to re-open helipad

Marty Bachman

BLYTHE - The Palo Verde Healthcare District Board approved applying to Caltrans to bring the hospital's helipad into compliance at its April 10 board meeting.

The vote comes almost two months after Caltrans ordered the hospital to cease and desist landing helicopters at the site in the hospital parking lot, which it had been doing since the 1970s. Board members Sam Burton, Sandy Hudson and Catalina McClain voted in favor of the motion with Board President Trina Sartin and Board Member Quitty Pinon recusing themselves because of conflicts.

The hospital received a letter from Caltrans in October 2012 ordering it to stop landing helicopters in the hospital's parking lot because the landing pad did not comply with state standards. Caltrans delivered a Cease and Desist letter this past February. The Times later learned that Board President Sartin's domestic partner and business partner in Desert Air Ambulance, Jeff Gatchell, sent numerous emails to Caltrans complaining about the safety of helicopters, which were business competitors to Desert Air Ambulance, landing at the hospital. The helicopters currently must land at the Blythe Airport where Gatchell is the fixed base operator and collects landing fees.

Caltrans officials say the hospital must apply for and receive a State Heliport Permit and it may designate it as an Emergency Medical Services landing site if the hospital meets the following criteria:

• A public safety agency may designate the landing zone using criteria the agency has determined are reasonable and prudent for the safe operation of EMS helicopters.

• The helipad averages six landings a month over a 12 month period.

• It must not have markings as a permitted heliport (general use)

• It is restricted to use only for emergency medical purposes.

Former hospital officials had tried to rectify the situation by seeking an exclusive contract with a helicopter company to build a new pad for the hospital and have a helicopter parked outside the doors 24/7, but when Sartin and a new board took office in December 2012, they immediately quashed the plan and fired the then CEO Peter Klune.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: AJ McKay

Sorry to bust your bubble but its more than just the MEC writing policy and handing it over for an approval. And nope I dont know whats going on. I've only told people on these forums what would happen weeks ahead of time on three different occasions already. Lol! No big deal though. The the citizens of Blythe continue showing how much they hate each other I guess. To each its own. :)

Posted: Monday, April 22, 2013
Article comment by: @ Poor AJ McKay

Looks like the MEC is back to their old tricks. Writing Policy without Board approval!
It is the same old thing. Tell the Blythe public one thing and go back to their old ways.

Posted: Sunday, April 21, 2013
Article comment by: Poor AJ McKay

You really do not know what is going on do you!
Another policy has already been written and put in place. There are two. One that was approved by the Board and one that the MEC wrote. We know who wrote that one. MEC put theirs in place shortly after the new board took affect.

Posted: Saturday, April 20, 2013
Article comment by: AJ McKay

@When Will Blythe Learn I hope there is no way anyone would believe anything about policy to be 100% true written by someone with an alias on a website. Lol! It's probably best to way to see what it contains and who it it will actually be written by. Policies such as these are never written by one individual. I hope if someone writes that there is an asteroid headed towards earth we all don't go running for the hills until we Know for sure. Just saying......

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: When will Blythe Learn

@ This is a joke - What you say makes sense. Dr. S said at Rotary that fixed wing was safer because it is pressurized.
Now you say he is going to write the transfer policy.
This stinks, no wonder Hudson and Sartin are now pushing to get it done. It will not hurt Sartin's business with Dr. S in charge.
Do not mistake me, I am for getting the Helipad done. Lets make sure Dr. S, Hudson and Sartin do not get in the way of using it!
What MEC PR move is next, say one thing do another.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: AJ McKay

Why wouldn't the helipad be used? Is anyone aware that helicopters have been coming into town for transport still? Most recently a couple days ago? Monday I believe. LOL! Do your research on helicopter use the last 20 years at PVH. They were used only a handful of times per month long before Desert Air arrived. You need two sources of transport in case one is not available. Or do you wait until the one gets back from the previous transport? The insurance (if you are covered) or out-of-pocket costs will be the same no matter who takes you. Making sure a life is saved is more important than any MEC or individual. If you were in a life or death situation yourself, would you worry about resources available and capable of saving your life? Or would you be worried about hospital politics or a helipad before the thought of seeing your family ever again? It's easy to speak about things now because you may not be in need of medical services, but later in life the things you speak of sure will not matter much. All you will worry about is getting help. Just saying . . .

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: AJ McKay

Its not about seeing into the future. Its about knowing the real facts from the past and present resulting in what would be the obvious outcome reported in this article. People who truly wanted to know what was gonna happen with the helipad issue could of researched it themselves instead of taking anyone's word for it. And as far as reporting the facts, the facts being reported are carefully selected. There are plenty of other positive facts that can be reported regarding the hospital. Chances are they will not be because they are not the type facts that support the views of some. Again, their newspaper. Up to people to believe what they want. :)

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: This is a joke

What was failed to be reported was the good doctor chimed in and said he wants the medical staff to decide how patients get transported. He's reviewing 10 "random" charts to determine if helicopter transport is actually faster. THEN the ringer was thrown in when the airport manager suggested an "process"or algorithm be put in place so there are no questions on this matter. The Big Picture is, Dr.S is going to write a policy as to how patients will be transported. Even if there is a helipad, it won't be used.

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Follow the Money

Well AJ!
So happy you were pleased with PVVT's article. I personally thought that some facts were left out. So I'll be the negative person. This is the statement of the year! The good doctor announced that they (MEC) wanted to contribute their services to placing the heliport in compliance. This is such a contradiction to their actions. The docs don't use the heliiport! They demand to have the patients (theirs and others) to be transported via fixed wing! There is a shocker! Maybe the doc is going to invest in a helicopter with Mr. Getchel or if the MEC is allowed to put the heliport in place then the doc will have a say on who uses it! Control Freaks!!!! That will secure somone's pocket! Keep reporting ALL the facts. The people of Blythe deserve honestly and a hospital that will be controled by the public and not the doctors!

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: Yes AJ McKay

They reported the FACTS!

Posted: Friday, April 19, 2013
Article comment by: @ aj

AJ are you by any chance some kind of a person that can see into the future.If so where are u located I want to come see you,Maybe you can see if I will ever hit the mega million....You are just to bright to be living in Blythe ....

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: AJ McKay

Congrats! You just reported what I told everyone what would happen long ago. LOL! Why not just report the facts for what they are. And that is PVH is in the process of making the Helipad usable again while complying with the law. Keep it simple PVVT. No need to repeat information (3rd & last paragraphs) from past articles reminding us of what we have heard repeatedly. Give credit when credit is due and be happy that the issue you made a big deal about was short-lived and resolved like I told you it would. Pay attention to the history of PVH. The MEC, Board, and all other issues aside, PVH has always found a way to keep it's services available. And it will continue to do so no matter what praise or "dirt" is brought upon them. PVVT says they report to make a difference for the best interests of the community. Drug and graffiti issues are far worse than the hospital issue at the moment. We are all ears. I hope the community sees some great ideas or possible solutions to these problems weekly in the front page for months also. :)

Posted: Thursday, April 18, 2013
Article comment by: Finally a positive step

Good news finally!!!

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