Helipad being built at Hospital in Lincoln 

Wayne Harvey

16 hundred square miles coverings 20 towns.That’s the area Penobscot Valley Hospital in Lincoln takes care of.The hospital broke ground Monday on something that will speed up coverage for those in the most dire of circumstances. “We started discussing this probably about three or four years ago” said hospital CEO Dave Shannon “and at that time we didn’t really have the funding available to get it started, so maybe about six or eight months ago we started talking about a lesser project of being able to put it in the parking lot which really brought the cost down considerably.”Lifeflight helped with $140,000 of the total bill, which is expected to be about $400,000. Part of the money came from a 2003 state transportation bond. Bangor savings bank also contributed five thousand dollars.Some of the parking lot is going to be used as the landing area, so there are plans to expand other parking areas near the building according to Shannon. “So what we decided to do was put it in the parking lot here and then we’re going to push the bank back in a couple of places and add parking on the side of the building that which when we’re all said and done will add about four spaces.”But for patients in need of immediate care, it will subtract travel time. “It significantly reduces the time that they are out of a major hospital that may require intervention for a heart, surgery or neonatal those types of things” says Aviation Manager for LifeFlight of Maine Dennis Small. “So it reduces the time just about in half that their transport time is much less.”Currently, flights land at the airport, and patients are transported from the hospital to the helicopter by ambulance, which is time consuming according to the Director of Emergency Services at PVH, Jill Bouchard. “We can actually put a patient directly onto their equipment, versus moving them back and forth from our equipment on to theirs.”The work on the site began as soon as the ceremonial photos were taken. Flights are expected to be able to land by the end of the summer.