A helicopter in the parking lot?
Yes, if you were in Gold Beach Monday afternoon and saw a helicopter landing in the parking lot of Curry General Hospital, you saw right.
Within 40 minutes of receiving a call, a Mercy Flight helicopter from Medford landed and a patient in critical condition was transferred to the helicopter within 10 minutes. The transfer was a "hot load," a transfer without an aircraft shutting off its engines.
Lora Maxwell, chief nursing officer at Curry General Hospital, said it was the first helicopter landing the hospital has had in three years. Law enforcement officials blocked off the streets in order to make sure no one used the sidewalks and got caught up in the rotors.
Maxwell said they were fortunate that staff had a meeting a week prior with law enforcement about what they would do in such a situation.
After the patient was loaded into the helicopter, the helicopter made it to Rogue Valley Medical Center in Medford in 20 minutes. While unable to give the patient's name, diagnosis or condition because of medical privacy laws, Maxwell said the quick transfer of the patient went well.
Sheryl McDermott, executive assistant to CEO Andrew Bair, said that if the new hospital bond measures passes, architects are looking at putting in a helipad with the new hospital building.
Helicopters can be limited in their use by weather, however.
"With a new hospital and good weather, it's something we'd like to see more of," McDermott said.