Sierra Vista Seeks to Add Helicopter Access 
Ron Yukelson 
Monday, 18 October 2010 

Seeking to bring additional safety to residents of San Luis Obispo County, as well as address its trauma needs, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center has plans to install a helistop on its hospital campus. Sierra Vista recently received a commitment to fund the $1.8 million structure from its parent company, Tenet Healthcare Corporation.

The helistop, which has received regulatory approval and endorsement by the San Luis Obispo City Council, is planned to be erected on top of the hospital’s new 5-story parking structure. It will be used primarily for the transport of trauma patients and to transfer critically ill babies in and out of the Sierra Vista Newborn Intensive Care Unit.

“Once installed, this will mark a significant investment in our community’s health,” said Candy Markwith, Sierra Vista’s Chief Executive Officer. “Our County’s emergency responders will have the capability to transport trauma patients to the most appropriate hospital in the shortest amount of time possible. That includes patients arriving at Sierra Vista as well as those who might need to be transferred to a higher level of care than our  hospitals are able to provide."

Additionally, health care providers will better be able to address the needs of  critically ill babies and send them more quickly to Sierra Vista. On occasion babies are transferred for a higher level of care from Sierra Vista to medical centers such as Children’s Hospital Central California or Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford.

In the event of a natural disaster or multiple casualty incident on the Central Coast, Sierra Vista Regional Medical Center’s helistop will provide increased access in and out of the area and increase the speed at which patients can be transported. In fact, the Sierra Vista helistop will be large enough to accommodate a Black Hawk military helicopter.

In its planning, Sierra Vista has taken precautions to minimize noise impact and disruption. A helistop is a temporary landing site where the helicopter must land, load or unload a patient, and then fly off again. A helipad allows for the helicopter to remain on the landing site until further disposition.