Ill. approves heliport for Streeterville hospital

October 15, 2011 5:18:19 AM PDT
The fight to stop a new children's hospital from opening a rooftop heliport in downtown Chicago is over.

On Friday, the state approved the request by the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital located at 225 East Chicago in Streeterville.

The fight began in 2008 when the hospital submitted its application. Critics fought the request citing potential danger because of the location and the unpredictability of winds in a high rise environment.

Unpredictable winds are just one of the reasons many residents of the downtown neighborhood opposed the application by the hospital to have medical helicopters land atop its new facility, which is nearing completion and is scheduled to open in June of next year.

"A lot of the people in this neighborhood support this heliport. At one of the public hearings we submitted 20,000 letters of support for the heliport, many of them from this neighborhood," said Mary Kate Daly, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

The hospital expects to get about 10 percent more landings of patients needing emergency care than it has now gets at its campus in the Lincoln Park. Last year there were 73 air ambulance arrivals there. The hospital said it had worked hard to mollify community concerns, and the quality of the institution's expert pleadings carried the day.

"We met with every condo board in this neighborhood, and we have continued those meetings constantly," said Daly. "We worked with national and internationally renowned experts in the area of aviation and heliport planning and critical care transport as well. Tthey submitted the most extensive studies that have ever been submitted to idot about a heliport."

On the street Friday night, those opposed to the plan seemed reluctant to talk but not those who think landing a helicopter amid concrete canyons is a good thing.

"I think it is a great idea. I think it will be a great benefit to the hospital in transporting people quickly to the hospital, I think that's is really important," said Kevin Herman, Streeterville resident.

"I know that the Streeterville neighborhood residents are very upset, but it won't be used all that much and it will save children's lives," said Kate Kamin, Streeterville resident.

ABC7 contacted SOAR, the Streeterville Organization of Active Residents, for their take on the state's decision but they chose not to comment.

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