Mercy Memorial Hospital on North Macomb Street



Is this place for landing helicopters licensed by the FAA and does it meet the safety requirements for licensing?  It is in a residential neighborhood and has only two lane streets in and out.

Update June 30, 2005

According to Larry King of the Detroit FAA Office, the Mercy Memorial heliport has been approved on June 16, 2005 and will be effective when the appropriate representative of the hospital completes and approves the appropriate forms. 

The FAA imposes strict conditions of use.  The landing and departure routes must be from 100 to 160 and 270 to 340 compass degrees of the centerline of the pad.  In addition, all other applicable rules for must be met as regard s glide path clearances.  This may require the helicopter to execute vertically before moving form the pad area in the applicable compass headings.  The same may be required for arrivals so the required altitude is reduced to ground level over the landing pad.

This places one of the FAA aproved arrival and takeoff paths directly over the web keeper's home. a block away.  This does not concern your web keeper.  I trust the FAA to use common sense.  

Dan Wakeman, Director has added a 64 slice CT scanner which together with powerful software makes coronary CTA a reality in Monroe.  This together with an on site three Tesla MRI machine, and medical specialists on site, our hospital has little need to send patients elsewhere for treatment.

Helicopter draws hostility - 06/28/2005

Mercy Memorial Hospital System plans to move its heliport, but some question the need for helicopter landings at the hospital.  © Monroe Evening News


Like mechanized angels of mercy, they swoop from the sky to ferry the critically injured to waiting hospital emergency rooms. The sound of a medical helicopter often is a signal that someone's life is being saved.

But for some, it can be an annoying intrusion on their peace and quiet. To others, it's a banner ad flaunting the technology of a faraway hospital. Still others see medical helicopters as a reason health care costs are soaring.

David A. Smith, a Hollywood Dr. resident, says he doesn't think Mercy Memorial Hospital System (MMHS) should have a heliport nestled within a heavily residential area, if only for safety reasons.

"The issue is not wanting them to fly over my house," he said.

Mr. Smith has questioned publicly and privately whether the MMHS heliport - a square slab of concrete marked with a big cross and H and surrounded by landing lights - was legal under local, state or federal laws.

Indeed, the facility is licensed by the Michigan Aeronautics Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration.

Nonetheless, Mr. Smith says the use of the hospital heliport for emergency pickups is "severely abused." He suggests that the facility should have been put on Stewart Rd. at the old Memorial Hospital site, now the Mercy Memorial Nursing Center, which is surrounded by substantial amounts of vacant hospital-owned land.

MMHS doesn't have a helicopter of its own, but the Monroe hospital is visited about four times a week by a medical helicopter either arriving with an accident victim or transferring a patient for a procedure at a hospital in Toledo or Ann Arbor.

Daniel L. Wakeman, MMHS chief executive officer, said the heliport will be moved slightly with the expansion and reconstruction of the hospital off N. Macomb St., but it won't be leaving the neighborhood.

"I will agree with him - I don't personally think it's the best spot in the world," he said.

Hospital officials say the heliport still will be in the area of the south employee parking lot, but it will be a bit east of its present site. Mr. Wakeman said its new location will be a bit better in terms of flight path because it will be farther away from trees and wires.

But he said the heliport still needs to be close to the emergency department. "You want it close to the building so you're not transporting patients from halfway across the world in a snowstorm," he said. Moving it to property on Stewart Rd. would defeat its purpose.

Hospital officials say the helicopters might not be hovering around as much in the future.

"As we increase our services, I think what you're going to see is less and less use of helicopters," Mr. Wakeman said.

He said that many times hospitals with helicopters will advise that a helicopter be used to transfer a patient for safety's sake, though an ambulance trip often would prove faster.

"In this area, helicopters are often not so much used for patient safety emergency needs as an alert tool to tertiary facilities in the area with their names on the side of them," he said.

"There have been allegations by community hospitals in the past that a lot of these big hospitals fly their helicopters into smaller communities to destroy the community's confidence in their local hospital's ability to take care of things," Mr. Wakeman said.

Though few dispute that the helicopters save lives, a 1994 study of the response times of helicopters and ground ambulances concluded that activation times, response times and on-scene times for helicopter transports were longer, on average, than ground ambulances. The same study also concluded that helicopters were overused in about 85 percent of transports.

"When it's truly a big-time emergency, I'm the first one to say get them out of here on a bird," Mr. Wakeman said. "But on the other hand, look at the Upper Peninsula, where there are no helicopters and no planes, yet they do a great job on dealing with their trauma and major stuff up there."

Mr. Wakeman joined MMHS after seven years as head of War Memorial Hospital in Sault Ste. Marie.

© Monroe Evening News

Well Charlie, It looks as though Mr. Wakeman and I agree on all points.  I had estimated that only one in five flights was a medical necessity and the rest were a poor second choice in medical transportation.  Daniel Wakeman's study puts the figure at 85%.  

Injuries and illnesses are very personal topics held dear in our society.  Judging the seriousness of an injury by the need for a helicopter ride is a way of defining “my affliction” in modern lay medical terms.  Folks speak of needing so many sutures to close a wound as a quantifier of the seriousness of the injury.  If they ask the surgeon, he or she may respond, we used the right number or enough—too busy fixing you to count. 

In Industrial work especially power presses, it is comforting to know that a medical helicopter can be summoned in the event it is necessary for a doctor to use his or her judgment to amputate a limb at the press or other machine. This information is in the Second Edition of the reference publication "Quick Die Change"  by Smith.

There Are Letters to the Editor Concerning Charles Slat's Article

NOTICE & DISCLAIMER: This is one of many websites that chronicle the history of Monroe County, Michigan.  Like other sites, newspaper accounts and correspondence from readers is invaluable source material to reflect contemporary views on current events.  The Monroe Evening News is considered by the web keeper to be an excellent publication achieving good accuracy when reporting issues of community interest.  Their policy of permitting readers to write letters to the editor for publication or to have their opinions submitted by E-Mail for publication on the web site is an excellent service to the community.  The web keeper cannot insure for liability reasons that the person cited as the writer of letters or E-mails is in fact the author or that they were correctly quoted.  To insure historical accuracy, any error shown to be genuine will be correct promptly upon notice to the web keeper. 

Medical helicopters truly are lifesavers

Douglas Rousselo

Monroe, Michigan

Helicopter has saved many lives

Cinci Shankle

Luna Pier, Michigan

Helipad saved mother's life

Jenna Dehner


There are E-Mails posted on the Monroe Evening News Website Expressing Opinions Concerning Charles Slat's Article  

Tracie Kachar RN

June 28, 2005

Judith Bass

June 28, 2005

Mark Kachar

June 29, 2005


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