Mountain Village Town Council Unanimously Approves Medical Heliport for New Regional Medical Center

“In emergency care, minutes matter,” said Dr. Koelliker, during a Joint Public Hearing between Mountain Village Town Council and Design Review Board. Both Town Council and the Design Review Board agreed.

By unanimous vote, Mountain Village Town Council approved the Telluride Hospital District’s (THD) Conditional Use Permit for a medical heliport at their envisioned new facility during Public Hearing on April 23. Dr. Koelliker, Medical Director of Emergency & Trauma Services at the Telluride Medical Center (TMC), is intimately aware of how sensitive time is when critically ill patients require transports from TMC to other facilities.

During Thursday’s Public Hearing Dr. Koelliker shared details of three recent helicopter transfers where minutes mattered for critically ill patients. Dr. Koelliker illustrated that at the current TMC facility, in the Depot District of Telluride, patients requiring helicopter transfers must be first transferred from TMC care to an ambulance only to be transferred once again at the airport from EMS services to the helicopter’s flight crew and equipment.

Each transfer from one stretcher to another takes anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, according to Dr. Koelliker, and the ride from TMC to the Telluride Regional Airport can take up to 18 minutes. With each transfer the risk of dislodging a life-saving component, like an IV or chest tubes, is increased.

“And all this happens not under the watchful eye of Emergency Room doctors and staff, in a controlled setting, but instead in an ambulance or on an airport tarmac, sometimes at night,” said Dr. Koelliker.