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'Think About Lives That Could be Saved' by Helipad, Summit Doctor Says

James Gardner, MD asks readers to "think reasonably about the lives that could be saved and the families that stand to be impacted," and empathize.

Dear Editor,

As a Summit resident and physician at Overlook Medical Center, I was encouraged to learn that the hospital has once again chosen to pursue the construction of a helipad at our facility. 

The discussion and debate over the helipad at Overlook has been a lengthy one. I believe it to be an extremely important upgrade to our Neuroscience department and the need for such a resource at our facility has not changed.        

Many have pointed to other regional hospitals with helipads as reasonable alternatives for emergency neuroscience treatment of stroke victims. Overlook is responsible for treating four to five times as many stroke patients as any comparative hospital in our area. And these patients and their families rely on Overlook Medical Center specifically for the expertise that our leading neuroscience practitioners are able to provide at crucial, life-saving junctures for those suffering from stroke.        

The Neuroscience department at Overlook Medical Center is an award winning and premier aspect of our wonderful hospital. To jeopardize the care that is currently available by making it harder to treat patients in a timely manner, or altogether denying the care of those doctors to those who cannot reach the facility by ambulance in time to make a difference, if not selfish, is at least irresponsible. To those who still stand steadfast in their opposition of the helipad, I ask you simply to think reasonably about the lives that could be saved and the families that stand to be impacted. Then, imagine yourself in their situation.      

Sincerely, 
James Gardner, MD
Summit
D Miller January 06, 2014 at 04:29 PM
Dr. Gardner's letter is an appeal to emotion and asks Patch readers to ignore testimony given and conclusions drawn during a year-long hearing process in front of the Summit Zoning Board of Adjustment (ZBA). Citizens Against the Helipad (CATH), the ZBA and the Summit Council have each given substantial consideration to the treatment and health of stoke victims which includes, but is not limited to, the information provided in Dr. Gardner's letter. The process through which this consideration was given has been validated by a court of law. Ultimately, each has concluded that a helipad presents risks to the entirety of Summit without truly achieving all the benefits asserted by the hospital. In attempting to balance patient needs with the needs of our community, even those of us at CATH who have actually experienced the impact of a stroke on our own family members concluded that "an upgrade" like a helipad is unnecessary in our densely populated community. The wonderful Neuroscience Center at Overlook was planned, developed and has successfully operated without a helipad on the building. It continues to receive and treat stabilized stroke patients. These patients benefit from Overlook's expertise. They have already received tPA and, as indicated in Overlook's own testimony before the ZBA, few of them are candidates for interventions such as the Merci Device. To learn more about the issue and residents' concerns, visit www.facebook.com/NoHelipad to download our fact sheet and for information on how to take action.
MadNJ January 13, 2014 at 11:11 PM
Maybe Gardner wants the helicopter for emergency breast implants. Here are Dr Gardners most recent Conference Presentations: Presenter for Breast Augmentation and Reconstruction, SBMC, 2000 “Liposuction”, Channel 36, April 2000 “Treatment of Difficult Wounds of the Trunk”, SBMC, 10/98 “Pre/Post-Operative Care of the Pediatric Plastic Surgery Patient”, NBIMC, 10/98
Michael S. Dzikowski January 16, 2014 at 09:50 AM
Dr. Gardner, Please read the 4/12/2012 study published in the "Journal of the American Medical Association". Transportation to the hospital by helicopter vs. ground emergency service for critical TRAUMA patients (with extremely high "injury Severity Scores") is linked to a mere 1.5% increased rate of survival ("Absolute Risk Reduction" [ARR] ) compared with ambulance ground transportation! This was a study of 223,123 trauma patients.159,159 were transported to Level I Trauma Centers and another 63,964 to Level II Trauma Centers like Morristown. With such an insignificant margin on these most critical time sensitive injuries, the transporting of "stabilized stroke victims" would undoubtedly negate any air transport advantage. Dr. Bryan Bledsoe (3/2/2010), a clinical professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Nevada School of Medicine, testified as an expert on emergency medicine and medical helicopter use. He testified in opposition to Overlook's heliport advising,"over the last decade there has been a significant increase in medical helicopter use since the Medicare reimbursement for helicopter use has increased. This move created an opening for private sector,"for-profit helicopter companies" to emerge instead of hospitals providing their own service"..."Bledsoe testified before the National Transportation Safety Board after a rash of crashes in 2008 took the lives of 30 people. "What we're seeing is a lot of patient transports that could have gone by ground,"... "As physicians, we have to balance the risks and benefits. We've seen situations where patients were brought in that didn't need to be brought in by air and ended up with $15,000 bills. Not one of us are against helicopter EMS. It's just not being reasonably used."....."It is uncommon to see a hospital construct a helipad for just inter-facility transfers. This is the first I've ever heard of even the concept". Dr. Bledsoe also raised questions about the need to transfer patients by air from referring hospitals WITHIN A 45 MILE RADIUS of Summit....."I agree with "time is brain" but, the definition of time seems to have chancged over the last 10 years"...."with an increase in helicopter use comes an increase in crashes"...."With stroke patients, IF an interventional window exists and air transport will deliver a patient to the hospital within the interventional window, WHEN GROUND TRANSPORT WOULD NOT,,, that is when I would support the use of helicopter EMS for interfacility transfers". We have all read Summit Councilman, Pat Hurley's (a former U.S. Navy Combat Helicopter Pilot) professional objections to this helipad. As a veteran U.S. Army & Marine Corps Helicopter Instructor Pilot, I too strongly object to this rooftop helipad. I have accomplished many medevac missions flying in and out of dangerous landing zones to save lives. Sadly, I have also evacuated crew members and passengers who were badly burned or did not survive helicopter crashes. This is something you doctors totally disregard in your letters. You disregard the flight crews, patients and residents surrounding the small and densely populated Overlook rooftop! I find this shameful. Dr. Gardner, how dare you call us "selfish, and irresponsible". Trust me. We know about helicopters, helipads and saving lives. We will seek your professional input if we need to learn more about liposuction and breast augmentation....You well know, the solution to this debate is to simply upgrade Morristown's CT Scan equipment (to a 320 Slice Scan like Overlook's from the current 64 Slice Scan). The Atlantic Health neurologist team is already there! The helipad is already there! The problem would be solved! Please support the upgrade and stop all this foolishness! Please...
Michael S. Dzikowski January 16, 2014 at 09:58 AM
Here's some links to educate yourselves on our safety concerns. There is a U.S. National Transportation Safety Board Database site: http://www.ntsb.gov/aviationquery/index.aspx This site will show you with various screens, how many helicopter accidents occur in whatever timeframe you select. e.g., For the ten year period 1/1/2004 through 12/31/2013 there were 136 accidents (non-scheduled helicopter flights; Part 135 for Air Taxi, Charter, Medical Service). 40 accidents (29%) resulted in fatalities ranging from 1 to 10, totaling 141 dead. PHI, Inc., the operator of Atlantic Health's three (3) helicopters, had 3 accidents (one with 8 fatalities resulting from a bird strike!). That's 1.18 fatalities per month; 104 fatalities per 100 accidents. 23% of the accidents were in Eurocopters, the manufacturer of Atlantic Health's fleet. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwddjutGEKY Spectrum Hospital Grand Rapids Hospital 5/29/2008 Helicopter Crash on Roof http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y1RmVqS1lu0 Animation of how it happened with 2 experienced pilots& 2 helipads!

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