N.S. government remains tight-lipped on future of LifeFlight
Published Monday, November 27, 2017 2:39PM AST
Last Updated Monday, November 27, 2017 8:54PM AST
It has been 19 months since a LifeFlight chopper landed on the roof of the QEII Health Sciences Centre or the IWK, and its future remains unclear.
In late March of 2016, Transport Canada informed EHS that its 36-year-old chopper wasn't certified to land on rooftop helipads. The news was made public in April. At the time, then-health minister Leo Glavine said government was working on a contingency plan.
"We wanted to make sure that that system was going to be absolutely performed in the strongest manner, and that there would be no interruptions of care," said Glavine.
That plan was a critical care unit deployed to pick patients up from Point Pleasant Park and take them to hospitals. It adds about 25 minutes in transport time, and has cost the city roughly $3.000 in security costs.
By January, Glavine announced a permanent solution: the province would add two new choppers, a contract for $105 million over 15 years.
"This gives us now the full ability to operate to the current helipads," he said.
According to the press release, those helicopters would be flying by Aug. 1. But in late August, EHS said the rollout was delayed until October as the choppers underwent upgrades. A press conference was planned on October 26 to welcome the new choppers, but it was cancelled the day before.
There has been no explanation from government about the delay.
“The one thing that frustrates people about politicians more than anything else is they never feel like they get a straight answer,” said PC MLA Barbara Adams. “If you're not going to have something flying when you say it is, then just tell us that.”
Adams has worked in health care for more than 30 years and says the service is essential.
"I've done CPR more than once and I know that sometimes 60 seconds can mean the difference between life and death, or permanent brain injury,” she says.
The Department of Health did not provide an interview on the subject. A spokesperson refused to answer questions, saying an update will be provided at an event. The date of the event was not provided.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.