Bahamian Health Officials Join Ribbon Cutting for New Helipad at University of Miami Hospital

A delegation of health officials from the Bahamas cut the ribbon for a new helipad at the University of Miami Hospital in a November 25 dedication ceremony that strengthened the Caribbean nation’s ties with the Miller School of Medicine and UHealth.

“Today, we are doing more than dedicating a landing pad at UMH,” said Pascal J. Goldschmidt, M.D., Senior Vice President for Medical Affairs and Dean of the Miller School and CEO of UHealth. “This is a new lifeline for patients across South Florida, the Bahamas and the Caribbean region who need to reach our groundbreaking clinical care and research facilities.”

Welcoming the delegation, UM President Donna E. Shalala said, “You have very good medical care in the Bahamas, and our physicians are your partners when you need very high-end specialized care. Our goal is to provide for a seamless transition
from one set of providers to another for the benefit of patients from both our countries.”

The Honorable Dr. Perry Gomez, Minister of Health for the Bahamas, noted that the UMH helipad will be particularly important in providing visitors and residents on the nearby island of Bimini with access to Miller School and UHealth services. “Time is critical to saving lives and Miami is just 50 miles away – closer than our capital of Nassau,” he said. “As we develop Bimini as a major tourist destination, we look forward to cooperating with you in establishing improved medical facilities for tourists and our residents, who will see a vast improvement in the quality of medical services provided to them.”

Other members of the Bahamian delegation included Marceline Dahl-Regis, M.D., M.P.H., Chief Medical Officer, Glen Beneby, M.D., Medical Advisor for the Public Hospital Authority of the Bahamas, and Sandra Carey, Deputy Consul General. They were given a tour of the rooftop helipad and a medically equipped helicopter by a Miami-Dade Fire Rescue team. After the dedication, the Bahamian delegation toured the Elaine and Sydney Sussman Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory at UMH and the Miller School’s Interdisciplinary Stem Cell Institute.

Gomez noted that Bahamian health officials had visited the Miller School several months ago to discuss the nation’s plans to establish a stem cell research and therapy program, and other potential areas of collaboration. “There are many challenges to delivering quality healthcare throughout a nation of islands,” he said. “We have a long history of friendship with UM and value that relationship.” Gomez added that government and education officials last week broke ground on the Bahamas Agricultural and Marine Science Research Institute on Andros Island, opening the door to additional potential avenues of cooperation with the University of Miami.

Before the helipad dedication, Arthur Hertz, Chairman of the Board of Governors of UMH and UM Trustee, noted that the University can provide assistance with educating and training Bahamian healthcare professionals, in addition to providing access to specialized patient services.

Dan Snyder, CEO of UMH, said the helipad will enable patients with complex disorders and injuries to receive specialized care and take part in the Miller School’s research and clinical trials. He added that the helipad can also serve as a drop-off point for medical supplies and personnel in the event of a natural disaster.

Snyder also emphasized the importance of rapid transport to the Miller School’s academic medical services in the “golden hour” after a medical emergency. Noting that he had spent 20 years in the U.S. Navy commanding field hospitals and hospital ships before joining UMH, Snyder said, “We understand the importance of getting patients to the hospital as quickly as possible, and this helipad is an important step in helping patients who need critical care.”

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