Construction begins to upgrade Victoria Hospital’s heliport

Prince Albert's Victoria Hospital. (Herald file photo)

Construction to upgrade the Victoria Hospital’s temporary landing area to a certified heliport is underway.

According to an emailed statement from the Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA), the expansion of activities outside of the Alfred Jenkins Fieldhouse—such as the new soccer fields and accessible playground—were the driving force behind the upgrade.

The SHA consulted with the City of Prince Albert and STARS for the upgrades. Construction began on Tuesday morning.

Added safety features will ensure flight crews, staff and people in the area are kept safe. These features include a fence, as well as markings and lights for landings.

The SHA said the current temporary landing area is not certified by Transport Canada as a heliport, but it will be following the upgrades.

The certification process and the construction are expected to take several weeks.

A news release said while the heliport is temporarily closed, patients needing STARS will be transported by ground ambulance to the airport. The distance is about 10 kilometres.

These patients will receive a bill for the ground ambulance transportation in addition to bills for air transport from the Ministry of Health.

When asked if the extra time to transport patients to the airport is a concern given the need for fast care, the SHA said there will be a process to determine how the patient is transferred that considers all factors.

The SHA said it will minimize disruptions to emergency room and hospital visitors. Signs will be posted if a traffic detour is needed.