FORT SMITH – The landing of a Mercy Life Line helicopter on Wednesday helped mark the beginning for a new helipad at Mercy Hospital Fort Smith, part of the ongoing expansion at the hospital.
The new helipad, located in front of the Physicians Building at the hospital, is part of the $162.5 million expansion of the emergency room and intensive care unit at Mercy Fort Smith. Relocating the helipad will improve patient transport to the ER.
“This is a first, giant step toward getting the new ER and ICU operations underway,” said Dr. David Hunton, president of Mercy Clinic Fort Smith. “We appreciate the work Mercy Life Line does in helping get patients to us and, when needed, getting other patients out where they need to go.”
The goal at Mercy in Fort Smith, Dr. Hunton said, is to become a Level II trauma center, and the helipad blessing is a “great first step in that direction. We look forward to all the construction projects as they will provide our community with better access to health care.”
The blessing was conducted by Father Paul Fetsko, vice president of mission at Mercy Fort Smith, who offered prayers for the new helipad and for Mercy co-workers and the community.
DJ Satterfield, administrative director for Mercy Life Line, said Wednesday’s blessing marked the beginning of expanded care for area residents.
“This blesses our teams and our aircraft and all the patients we will care for who need us as a lifeline,” he said. “As the prayer of the dedication stated, this helipad will care for the sick and serve the sick as we serve Christ.”
As part of the expansion project at Mercy, the ER space will grow from 29 to 50 rooms and ICU capacity will increase from 38 to 64 patients. The project is expected to be completed in late 2024.