Clovis News

Griswold: Visalia hospital helipad will reduce patient travel time

Construction of the helipad at Kaweah Delta Medical Center in downtown Visalia begins in September.

Starting in the summer of 2013, helicopters will land there instead having to land at Visalia airport, where an ambulance then takes patients to Kaweah Delta.

The $2.2 million project will save lives by getting patients to medical providers more quickly, CEO Lindsay Mann said.

But there's a $350,000 hole in the construction budget, and the Kaweah Delta Hospital Foundation is seeking help from the community.

"We'll make it," said Joanne Hurley, campaign chair.

To kick off the community campaign, Tulare County Sheriff Bill Wittman last week handed a $5,000 check from Tulare County Deputy Sheriff's Association to foundation representatives.

Large community donations include First Five Tulare County ($21,000) and the Tule River Indian Reservation ($30,000).

So far, about $1.2 million in donations has come from hospital staff, doctors and the foundation. Almost $500,000 has come from the federal government. The hospital pledged an additional $200,000.

The helipad will be next to the emergency department.

No parking will be lost because the helipad will be on a raised platform that cars can park under.

COURT CUTS: Tulare County Superior Court is preparing to announce staff layoffs and courtroom closures.

Details are few, but spending will drop by 15%, or $3 million from the $19.7 annual budget, the court said in a news release.

The courts might announce changes this week in preparation for cuts in state funding, said Deanna Jasso, court administrative manager.

Fresno County Superior Court dropped a bombshell last month by saying it would shutter courthouses in Coalinga, Firebaugh, Reedley, Sanger, Selma, Clovis and Kingsburg in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's proposed budget cuts. Court employees also are slated for a 10% pay cut.

At Kings County Superior Court, staff furloughs are inevitable, court executive Todd Barton said. Layoffs, courtroom closures and reduced hours are possible.

COLLEGE FARM: College of the Sequoias will sell its 17-acre farm in Visalia to Visalia Unified School District. The price is still being negotiated, said Larry Dutto, dean of industry and technology.

Visalia will use the buildings as the permanent home of Visalia Technical Education Center, which now uses portables.

Meanwhile, the college ag department, a staple at the site since the late 1940s, will move to Tulare when the COS Tulare campus opens in January.