Kaweah Delta Helipad Project

Success measured in life-saving minutes


Kaweah Delta Medical Center

Visalia, CA


Since being designated a Level III trauma center, Kaweah Delta Medical Center’s patient volume increased more than 200 percent. Yet the center serves such a large geographic area it could take hours for patients to get care—time they sometimes didn’t have.

A change is in the air at Kaweah. It takes the form of a new freestanding helipad, which shaves life-saving minutes off the transport time for the critically injured. Harris & Associates was especially proud to manage this project throughout pre-construction and construction, with services including:

  • Helping the owner coordinate with the hospital facility for minimal disruption
  • Reviewing change orders
  • Coordinating all consultants and major stakeholders, including the FAA and Caltrans Division of Aeronautics
  • Traffic control during transport of steel elements
  • Parking control during construction

Now, instead of having to land at Visalia Airport, helicopters can touch down directly at the hospital. A newborn in need of a higher level of care could be at Stanford Medical Center in just 69 minutes, versus spending 3.5 hours on the road. the helipad will be a lifesaver for generations to come.

Core Elements

The $2.7 million project included:

  • An initial study of environmental impact and noise mitigation
  • Design and construction of the 50-by-50-foot helipad
  • Re-design of the underlying parking lot
  • A new elevator structure to transport patients down from the helipad to the hospital
  • Planning of new landing, takeoff and flight patterns, adhering to regulations amid a populated area and vertical buildings on three of the helipad’s four sides

Despite myriad challenges and constraints, Harris helped to complete the project on time and on budget.

Beyond the Blueprints

An initial study revealed that none of the existing buildings at the center could support the helipad, due to the mechanical equipment atop their roofs. This required a wholly new design of an elevated deck, built over an existing parking structure. And that required a new elevator to transport patients from the helipad to the hospital—as well as significantly more money to pay for the project.

Funding came straight from the community, thanks to a Harris-supported public outreach campaign that included editorials, articles, a golf tournament and a video contest. Employees of the Kaweah District Medical Center even donated deductions straight for their paychecks to help fund this worthy cause.


2014 Project of the Year Award, American Public Works Association, Central California