Construction of a new $912,000 helipad was expected to begin at Bluewater Health this week.
The former St. Patrick’s High School athletic track area on East Street is fenced off while crews lift and remove the oval track.
The property — which Bluewater Health purchased from the St. Clair Catholic District School Board in 2016 — has been a designated construction zone and closed to the public since last November.
A municipal pathway that runs along the side of the property will be temporarily unavailable while the old track is removed, the hospital said.
That work is expected to take about two weeks, with construction of the helipad taking place in late summer. Pending certification by Transport Canada, helicopters could begin transporting patients by late fall, the hospital said.
A construction tender was awarded to Jayden Construction in March.
Lambton County is providing $400,000 and the Bluewater Health Foundation fundraising he additional $512,000.
The hospital, which serves 126,000 residents, is the only one in the region without an on-site air ambulance and currently relying on ambulance personnel and Sarnia Chris Hadfield Airport to move patients.
In the 2019-20 fiscal year, almost 400 local people were sent to other health facilities from the Sarnia emergency department, intensive care unit or maternal-infant unit.