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Health & Wellness

Catholic Health marks opening of new helipad at Mount St. Mary's

Bishop Fisher blesses a Mercy Flight helicopter, Mount St. Mary's Hospital, Dec. 17, 2021
Michael Mroziak
/
WBFO News
Bishop Michael Fisher of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo sprinkles holy water on a Mercy Flight helicopter and new helipad at Mount. St. Mary's Hospital in Lewiston, Dec. 17, 2021

Catholic Health System is celebrating the formal opening of its new helipad at Mount St. Mary’s Hospital in Lewiston. It’s an asset that officials say will save precious moments in those few occasions when it’s necessary to move patients to another center for advanced care.

“This capability behind me here extends the life-saving care available at Catholic Health. This is not just about Mercy Hospital, it's about extending all the expertise throughout Catholic Health in the continuum,” said CJ Urlaub, Mount St. Mary’s president.

As part of the dedication, Mercy Flight hosted some demonstration flights for invited guests, and Bishop Michael Fisher of the Diocese of Buffalo showered holy water on the aircraft, new helipad, and pathway from the pad to the emergency department.

Doctors who serve at the hospital say the new helipad should not be looked upon as a means to empty out Mount St. Mary’s and simply shuffle patients to other hospitals. Dr. Lee Guterman, who treats stroke patients, says investments have been made which make Mount St. Mary’s and other Niagara County hospitals good quality centers in their own right.

“We have neuro ICU coverage here at Mount St. Mary's, which is new. We've made developments in the ICU for acute stroke, so that patients can get (intravenous tissue-type plasminogen activator) here at Mount St. Mary's, and stay here, so their families aren't traveling 45 minutes or an hour if they remained stable,” Guterman said. And that's really was our goal. Patients with complex neurological problems and seizure disorders are now staying at Mount St. Mary's and not all of them need to be shipped out.”

But in cases where a patient needs to be moved elsewhere, hospital system leaders and doctors say the transfer can now be made much sooner, saving moments that could truly make a lifesaving difference.

“Where things stood until this came along, was that we would have a 60-minute car transfer to get patients from here to where those technologies are available,” said Dr. Jason Davies, a neurologist affiliated with the hospital. “All along the way neurons are dying, outcomes are suffering. Now that's transformed into a 10-minute flight. And hopefully we will realize those benefits for the people of Niagara County, as they have now better access to those techniques and those technologies.”

Catholic Health officials note the new helipad may also provide transportation to cases involving critical cardiac, pulmonary, and septic conditions, if necessary.