Helicopter landing on helipad in the 25th Street parking lot of Island Health.

Island Health has been working on an updated master facility plan for several months and is excited to see the first project of the plan come to fruition in 2023. Through a federal grant that was applied for in 2019 and received in 2022, we will be relocating the helicopter pad from the north parking lot to the roof of our Acute Care Unit, closer to the Emergency Department (ED). This project also enables updates to the ED and main entrance (24th Street) to improve patient flow and security.

Island Health’s helipad sees over 170 landings each year from Airlift Northwest, Life Flight and U.S. Navy helicopters.

Currently, medical teams travel the length of a football field each way to retrieve a patient from a helicopter and bring them to the ED to receive care. Relocating the helipad closer to the ED has the obvious benefit of enhancing timely delivery of care but also places the helipad where it was originally designed to be located when the hospital was built in 2004. The relocation of the helipad will then allow for additional parking in the north lot, which is greatly needed for patients coming to outpatient appointments.

Effectively managing our facilities and space is key to responding to the needs of our community.

Patient parking at the south end of our campus near the ED is very limited. This “back door” entrance should be used by emergency patients and staff only. Island Health will make interior modifications to contain the ED so that it becomes its own department with enhanced safety and security for staff and visitors. In order to create a true “front door” to Island Health, updates to the main entrance off of 24th Street will also be a part of this project.

The key benefits of the emergency services project are:

  • more timely administration of care;
  • increased safety for patients who are transported via helicopter;
  • improved security and safety for patients and staff in the ED;
  • improved flight path for helipad landings;
  • improved parking and main entrance wayfinding for patients and visitors throughout the organization.


Geological engineering surveys and hover tests have been conducted to ensure the viability of the helipad relocation. The project is estimated to cost $4.2M and will be funded through $2.5M of congressionally-directed funds. Island Health is working with state legislators for additional dollars. Any remaining costs will be funded through philanthropic donations made to the Island Health Foundation and no operating funds will be used for this project.

The project is expected to begin this spring and take approximately seven months to complete.

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Published on March 8, 2023