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Geisinger Jersey Shore receives $250,000 grant to build helipad

A planned helipad at Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital received a $250,000 grant Tuesday to help get the project off the ground.

The grant, administered by the Williamsport Lycoming Community Fund at the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania, will create a “community resource,” said Marc Stempka, media relations specialist for Geisinger.

Though the design and final cost of the project have yet to be finalized, the helipad may be installed by the end of the year “at the absolute earliest,” he said.

A helipad at Jersey Shore will allow the hospital to assess and stabilize medical emergencies before either transfering the patient or handling the situation in-house.

Currently, when a medical helicopter is called to take a patient to another hospital, that individual needs to be transported to Jersey Shore Airport, at 1181 Pine Creek Ave., or another location.

“Being able to land a helicopter at the hospital can take them right out of the hospital and to the next location,” said Stempka, saving valuable time.

Particularly for cases of stroke, which tend to be “especially critical to have a patient flown,” he said, quick access to transport is necessary.

The helipad will also serve to take patients wherever they need to go, he said.

“This is just not an exclusive Geisinger and Life Flight project. That helipad will be utilized as a resource,” said Stempka. “We will transfer patients wherever they need to go for whatever level of care they need, and other medical helicopters will land there as well.”

For instance, the only burn centers in our region are in Pittsburgh and the Lehigh Valley. Those patients could be stabilized at Geisinger Jersey Shore before being transported more than a hundred miles to those facilities, he said.

While a Life Flight is only called in the Jersey Shore area about two or three times a month, any cost is worth it to help people get help sooner and increase their odds of survival, said Stempka.

The eventual addition will help save lives, said Gerald Splitt, Life Flight program director, in a press release.

“Life Flight has regional bases in Montoursville, State College and Selinsgrove. The addition of a helipad at Geisinger Jersey Shore Hospital significantly decreases the time to quaternary care services for patients who in many cases every minute will matter to their outcome.”

Tammy Anderer, chief administrative officer of Geisinger’s North-Central Region, said she was grateful to the charity for their support in a press release.

“We’re here to care for our community, and it’s great to have a community partner like the First Community Foundation Partnership of Pennsylvania recognize the work we’re doing and the need to invest in a project like this,” she said.

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