Roper St. Francis set to open new helipad

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - Roper St. Francis is ready to trim{}a few more minutes off the time for emergency patients to get care when they are flown in by helicopter. The hospital's new rooftop helipad is set to open on Friday.

Officials at the hospital said it will lead to helping patients 15 to 20 minutes faster. The new helipad is on the hospital's South Tower. Before the addition of the rooftop helipad, patients had to be moved through a parking garage and traffic before making it to the emergency room.

Many of the patients who will be airlifted live in rural areas, a statement from the hospital read, adding that an ambulance ride from McClellanville to downtown Charleston takes about an hour, but a helicopter ride will only take about 15 minutes.

"We love where we live, but our friends and neighbors in McClellanville are very happy to know they now have a rapid route to interventional emergency treatments at Roper Hospital thanks to the new helipad," said Rutledge Leland, Mayor of McClellanville.{}

The travel times from Kiawah and areas of John's Islands will only be seven minutes to the new Roper tower helipad whereas transport time via roadway from there takes approximately 50 minutes.{}

"It is comforting for people on the barrier islands to know that there is now a faster way to get intensive emergency care for the most demanding medical situations," said Jimmy Bailey, COO, Kiawah Island Community Association. "Those living, working or vacationing on Kiawah Island believe the new Roper Hospital Helipad presents a greatly improved scenario for emergency services on the Charleston peninsula."{}

Officials said the helipad will be a tremendous help in cases of serious heart attacks because travel time will go from 20 minutes to less than three minutes.

"The RSFH rooftop helipad will improve our patient delivery and significantly reduce travel time for our patients going to Roper Hospital," said Don Lundy, B.S., NREMT-P, EMS Director of Charleston County.

The process to add the helipad started in 2011 when hospital administration started a campaign to raise $1.8 million. The money was raised through donations.

"We visited people all over the Lowcountry to tell them about our plans to construct a helipad on Roper Hospital. The first response was one of relief; the second was often the question, 'how can I help?'" said Patrick Kelly, MD, Roper Emergency Physicians.