Cottage Helipad Meeting, Part Deux

Hospital Neighbors Still Frustrated with Helicopter Lights, Noise

Friday, March 16, 2012
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More than 60 residents who live near Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital gathered this past Tuesday for a second neighborhood meeting about the noise and lights coming from helicopters that have been transporting patients to the hospital’s new helipad.

The hospital’s president, Ron Werft, kicked off the discussion by stating just how serious Cottage Hospital was taking the complaints and concerns. He was followed by Steve Fellows, who said that while the helipad’s first week in early February endured a staggering 13 flights, the following weeks have only experienced about five flights per week. While seven of the 28 flights to date landed between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., Fellows said that only two flights have occurred after hours since February 12.

Dr. Chris Flynn, the chief of staff at Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital, explained how each use of the helicopter pad for inter-facility transfers was critical for patient care, with 16 of the flights transporting stroke victims in need of immediate medical attention. “In all the cases they’ve accepted, those were the right decisions,” Flynn said. “The emergency department doesn’t look at this as a new toy or thrill.”

Werft explained that the stroke victim flights are a direct result of Cottage Hospital’s certification as the only stroke center in the Central Coast. “Over the last 25 years since I’ve been here, Cottage Hospital has transformed from a community hospital to a regional hospital,” explained Werft. “Twenty-five percent of patients come from outside the South Coast because we’re the only Central Coast hospital that has: fill in the blank.”

Many neighbors asked if the hospital could ask for quieter helicopters after hours, or whether it was necessary to use bright spotlights, which flood the bedrooms of many sleeping residents, when flying over the hospital since the landing pad is already equipped with lights. Lisa Abeloe, a representative of CalSTAR air ambulance service, stated that Cottage Hospital really has no control over which helicopters or air ambulance services other hospitals use when transporting patients. That was seconded by the hospital’s director of environmental safety, Susanna Shaw, who added, “We’re trying to manage and continue to manage helicopter landings, while mitigating them in terms of hospital necessity. But the types of helicopters used is outside our jurisdiction.”

Inquiries into the designated flight path used by helicopters to travel to Cottage Hospital included whether it could be adjusted for higher altitude air space to reduce noise levels. But Werft stated that Caltrans is the ultimate authority in designating flight paths for helicopters within city air space, not Cottage.

Santa Barbara attorney and resident Mark Chytilo was also present at the meeting and discussed how the environmental impact report for the new helipad failed to predict or encompass the apparent distress it has caused neighbors through its current usage. “Are you working toward getting the number of flights back to what the permit said it would be, rather than double?” Chytilo inquired. “Or is a further environmental impact report needed?”

Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider and five out of six city councilmembers were also present throughout the proceedings, observing quietly the exchange between frustrated residents and reassuring hospital administrators. One neighbor asked if a new department for “hearing loss and jittery nerves” would be opened at Cottage in the future, which was met with laughter, while resident Nora Gallagher introduced near the end of the meeting the creation of a neighborhood coalition affected by helicopter noise and light.

The next neighborhood meeting will be held on May 15 at 5:30 p.m. in the Cottage Rehabilitation Hospital’s conference room. A neighborhood hotline, initiated after the previous meeting, is available for nearby residents to call with complaints, concerns, or suggestions at (805) 569-8917.


Independent Discussion Guidelines

AS long as they keep complaining, I will keep commenting on what selfish uncaring spoiled people these are. How many were in favor of the Cold Springs bridge? Preventing death - same thing. But NIMBY!

JohnLocke (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 1:03 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Frankly, I'm surprised Mark Chytilo hasn't petitioned the forces of nature, the intertwined balances of chaos and order, and whatever gods he might pray to (other than Mammon) to simply limit and constrain human emergencies and accidents to the hours between 8am and 5pm.

Draxor (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 1:05 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Well, if this involves Cottage Hospital/Church, we all should lose our powers of critical thinking and need for legal compliance.

John_Adams (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 1:42 p.m. (Suggest removal)

Medical emergencies are rarely compliant with any legalities or a person's sleep habits. That hospital has been there longer than any of the residents effected. A helicopter or an ambulance siren in the middle of the night, it's what you get when you live by a hospital. The hospital didn't move in over night.
Selfish, spoilied and uncaring is putting it nicely J-Locke.

Ken_Volok (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 3:04 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First, love the "not in my backyard" insensitivity. "Lets put it in Goleta so it wakes THEM up and not us!" The Hospital has been there for 124 years. Shouldn't you have considered a Helipad before you move into the neighborhood? There is one, and only one, thing to consider here: The Air-lifting saves lives. PERIOD Shame on anyone that complains about it. It saves lives! How anyone can be that Selfish is simply beyond me. The Helicopters should be able to land on your roof tops and perform the surgeries in your Living Room and your only response should be to thank God that a life was just saved. People think all sorts of things will be the end of Earth and the Human Race. Terrorism, Greed, Gay Marriage, etc. But what is going to do it is SELFISHNESS, plain and simple. IT SAVES LIVES!

steamroller (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 3:24 p.m. (Suggest removal)

This is a terrible analogy but this reminds of the legal case in which a cattle feed lot existed in some misc rural area for many decades. Yet, due to urban sprawl, neighborhoods got closer and closer over the years. Later, when the feedlot decided beef prices were good and market conditions were suitable, they brought in more cows to their operation. Now, the relatively new neighbors are suing due to increased stink, and are trying to limit cattle volume. Lunacy! Due your homework before you buy your home or shut up.

Riceman (anonymous profile)
March 16, 2012 at 6:53 p.m. (Suggest removal)

So far, everyone here is in agreement. Of a 168-hour week, how many of those hours are choppers buzzing in the neighborhood? Is the noise going on all day?

Also, what is the alternative to saving lives?

billclausen (anonymous profile)
March 17, 2012 at 2 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Love the one comment, "Many neighbors asked if the hospital could ask for quieter helicopters."

Yes, I remember a movie way back in the 80's call "Blue Thunder" didn't they have a "Whisper mode?"


Priceless (anonymous profile)
March 17, 2012 at 8:05 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Most of these flights aren't life-and-death emergencies, but a convenient (and bill-padding) way to transfer patients from one hospital to another.

Etna (anonymous profile)
March 17, 2012 at 4:37 p.m. (Suggest removal)

First Etna, that is simply factually inaccurate.
Second, I think we should transport them utilizing technology from Star Trek; the rearrangement of their molecules might help save them anyway.
Third, this battle was lost many years ago as Cottage was allowed to buy out St Francis and Goleta Valley.
Fourth, while I do not think it makes sense to create a megalopolis hospital in the middle of town that is what we have and has been approved by our own political leaders.
Fifth, find something else to decry as this is not going to change.

italiansurg (anonymous profile)
March 18, 2012 at 8 a.m. (Suggest removal)

These people should be ashamed of themselves. The amount of helicopter traffic is minimal even at twice the predicted rate. Helicopters have been approaching Ventura County Hospital over prime hillside real estate for decades and the Ventura folks don't complain. This is not some helicopter tourism business, it's a hospital!! Get over it and focus on something that matters. What a waste of time a newsprint. I guess those of us who tolerate the sound of the 101 freeway, the Santa Barbara Airport, and daily 4:00 AM train whistle are made of sterner stuff than the namby pamby NIMBYs who live near Cottage Hospital.

Eckermann (anonymous profile)
March 18, 2012 at 1:59 p.m. (Suggest removal)

italiansurg, are you seriously arguing that the stroke patients they now fly in by helicopter would die if they were transported by ambulance? What is your basis for this claim?

Etna (anonymous profile)
March 18, 2012 at 10:26 p.m. (Suggest removal)

There has been a helipad at Goleta Valley hospital for years. And I live just under where the helicopters usually fly. Yes, we could hear them come, and would usually go out and look up. I always felt good that someone was getting the immediate help they needed. Sorry that there are so many complaining.

bajamama (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2012 at 12:30 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Etna you're way out of line and clearly haven't dealt with the aftermath of stroke - yet. How lucky for you. Why not try reading up about stroke treatment and how crucial it is to treat strokes as soon as possible after they happen - there's basically a two hour window. This prompt treatment is crucial to ensure the stroke victim's life AFTER the stroke is a worthwhile as possible.

surfimp (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2012 at 5:33 a.m. (Suggest removal)

Go away L.A. Who could've seen this train wreck coming. I guess if you want peace and quite you should rob the U.S. treasury and move to Moneycito. Those not sympathetic to the neighbors are really promoting the further downgrade of that already super-used by Cottage neighborhood.

Cottage operates under a Condition Use Permit. C.U.P.s allow non-residential uses in residential zones conditioned for compatibility with the neighborhood. Heli-Copters are obviously incompatible in any neighborhood setting.

So this will be just another screwed up neighborhood brought to you by the lame, lazy thinking, politically connected, doctors who didn't want to relocate, and the 'preservationist' crowd who always want to focus on superficial red-tile visuals as the primary focus rather than the neighborhood, or housing, or transportation, or the important stuff; like getting the rest needed to naturally heal.

And speaking of train wrecks I suspect there is now a greater possibility of a mid-air collision over the neighborhood because not only is the up and down activity of these emergency helicopter sorties going to increase (as we grow regionally) but there seems to be quite a bit of those two seater cessna type recreational fliers about too.

I seem to recall that this Cottage area is outside of the jurisdiction of any flight control. Can't wait for the first celebrity to show up at the E.R. and the several TMZ type paparazzi copters hoovering overhead. ( Please see u.c. L.A. r.r med center for what not to wear...or how to develop.)

DonMcDermott (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2012 at 6:16 a.m. (Suggest removal)

surfimp, are you saying these two people had their lives ruined by Cottage?

>>"At around the same time, two Cottage patients were prepped to be transported to Los Angeles care facilities. The L.A.-based copter company that came to pick them up, however, broke protocol and didn’t properly communicate with Cottage, so the helicopters arrived while a CalSTAR unit was already on the pad. This forced the L.A. helicopters to circle for so long — leaving their designated flight path — that they had to fly to Santa Barbara Airport to refuel."<<

Crackhotoa (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2012 at 4:17 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The next time your dinner party has to endure the brief interruption from the helicopter, stop and be thankful that you are not the patient. Get over your pettiness.

dontflytoolow (anonymous profile)
March 19, 2012 at 7:31 p.m. (Suggest removal)

The next time you find a homeless guy's dump by your front door, stop and be thankful that you have a toilet. Get over your pettiness.

Crackhotoa (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2012 at 11:07 a.m. (Suggest removal)

I called Cottage hospital to ask, and they assured me that they will readily treat any patient in need, even ones spouting nonsensical, conspiracy-theory laden drivel or other assorted anti-hospital rhetoric.

I hope that knowledge comforts all of you sad, petty people.

Sothep (anonymous profile)
March 20, 2012 at 10:50 p.m. (Suggest removal)

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