The air ambulance helipad at Health Sciences North in Sudbury has been shut down twice for repairs in the past month — and that's had a direct impact on the length of time it takes to get patients to the hospital.

Hospital COO Joe Pilon said the Health Sciences North helipad was originally supposed to be closed for resurfacing for two days at the beginning of June, but those two days quickly extended into a two week period.

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Joe Pilon, chief operating officer at Health Sciences North (CBC)

"When we started to do the resurfacing, we noticed it was flaking quite a bit," Pilon said. "So we felt then that it was best to take the topping right off of it and apply a whole new topping."

That closure lasted from June 5 to 17, however last week, the helipad was closed again after another piece of the tarmac came loose.

Pilon said the problem is continuing because the new surface is failing to bond to the concrete underneath.

Working to find a solution

While the helipad was closed for repairs, the ORNGE air ambulance landed at either an OPP helipad near the hospital or at the Greater Sudbury Airport.

Frank St. Jean, operations manager with ORNGE in Sudbury, said his organization is responsible for transporting the patients by ambulance from the airport to Health Sciences North. The lack of access to the hospital’s helipad "does add some transport time," he said.

"In those cases we use every means possible to get to the hospital as quickly as possible."

Pilon noted the problem with the helipad surface could re-occur and the hospital is continuing to work with contractors until the problem is resolved.

"When the helicopter landed on Friday afternoon [the pilot] noticed there was a chunk of the new surface that had come off, and so that obviously creates a concern," Pilon said. "We're working with them to find a solution."