Millinocket, Lincoln hospitals get funding for helipad development

Posted May 05, 2009, at 8:36 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 30, 2011, at 12:21 p.m.

MILLINOCKET, Maine — Millinocket Regional Hospital and Penobscot Valley Hospital of Lincoln will have helipads by this fall thanks partially to $247,000 in funds from federal grants and a state transportation bond, members of Maine’s congressional delegation announced Tuesday.

PVH will receive $18,750 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program and $103,700 in the form of a Maine Transportation Bond for the helipad and related improvements. Millinocket Regional Hospital will receive $18,300 from rural development and $106,250 from the bond.

The money will go to the LifeFlight Foundation’s helipad development fund, according to announcements released Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Michael Michaud and U.S. Sens. Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins.

The region’s primary air ambulance service, LifeFlight sought helipad funding more than a month ago from several agencies. The service now lands in the back parking lot at MRH, Millinocket firefighters said Tuesday, and at the Lincoln Regional Airport in Lincoln.

The helipads will help shave at least 30 minutes off the time it takes to transport patients by air from Lincoln, LifeFlight officials have said.

“It will also allow Eastern Maine Medical Center’s neonatal team to respond quickly to PVH when an infant is in crisis,” PVH Chief Executive Officer David Shannon said. EMMC is in Bangor.

Penobscot Valley’s 45-foot-by-45-foot helipad is part of a $400,000 renovation project at the hospital. The helipad would be in the northern corner of the hospital’s Transalpine Road parking lot, plans show. The other renovations to the hospital’s Emergency Department include two new beds and a new entrance leading to the helipad.

The hospital hopes to have all the work done within five weeks.

“We are currently seeking additional grant funding and community support for this project,” PVH Fund Development Coordinator Jessica Fogg said Tuesday in a statement.

Millinocket Town Manager Eugene Conlogue said he was unaware of the details of MRH’s helipad plans. Town Code Enforcement Officer Michael Noble, Millinocket Regional Hospital Chief Executive Officer Marie Vienneau and members of her staff did not return messages seeking comment on Tuesday.

The lack of LifeFlight use at Lincoln’s airport will not impede airport growth, Lincoln Town Manager Lisa Goodwin said Tuesday.

“It could have an adverse effect on our grant [applications], but if we move toward more development in that area — and that is our plan — it should have no impact,” Goodwin said Tuesday.

Town officials are planning to expand the airport as part of plans to build Industrial West, a proposed industrial park near the airport property. The town is accumulating funds from the tax break it gave Lincoln Paper & Tissue LLC in 2004 to eventually pay to install water and sewer lines to the park and airport areas. No construction dates are set, Goodwin said.

Penobscot Valley Hospital is the only provider of emergency medical services for a Rhode Island-size area that comprises Burlington, Carroll Plantation, Chester, Enfield, Howland, Lakeville, Lee, Lincoln, Lowell, Mattawamkeag, Maxfield, Passadumkeag, Seboeis Plantation, Springfield and Winn.

MRH is a 25-bed critical access hospital that serves as the primary care facility for East Millinocket, Medway, Millinocket and the surrounding territories. The hospital also provides an option for services to Brownville, Island Falls, Milo, Patten, Sherman and Stacyville and their surrounding territories.

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