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Angel Flight West: Overcoming the Transportation Barrier

Monday, August 20, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Kathleen Masser, 
Outreach Program Coordinator at

Angel Flight West

"But I don't have any way to get there."

You've probably heard those words more than once, from a patient with no way to get to your clinic or someone you referred to a specialist at a far-off facility.

Transportation can be a huge obstacle, but getting the best care possible shouldn't depend on geography or finances. At Angel Flight West, we believe everyone should have the opportunity for good health outcomes.

That's why we created our free, NASW-accredited on-line webinar, "Guide to Medical Transportation for Healthcare Professionals," good for 1.5 hours of CME credit. The course explores multiple transportation solutions -- local, regional, national, even international -- and comes with an e-book that offers tips on identifying resources in your community. Visit https://cme.angelflightwest.org/ to get started!

That's not all we do.

Angel Flight West (AFW) is a network of volunteer pilots in Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and nine other Western states who donate their time, skills, aircraft, and all expenses to fly people to medical appointments. For free. 

That's what we did for Chloe D. of Baker City, Oregon.



Chloe was five years old when she was diagnosed with high-risk leukemia. Doctors in her hometown referred her to Doernbecher Children’s Hospital (300 miles away), but mounting medical bills made it impossible for her parents to afford airfare from the nearest commercial airport, 100 miles away in Pendleton, and the family car was in no shape to make the long drive. 

Over a two-year period, AFW’s volunteer pilots provided 19 round trip flights so Chloe could receive the life-saving treatment she needed.

Blake's commute was even further: it's nearly 1,000 miles from his home in Hayden, Idaho to Mountain View, California, where he was scheduled to see a specialist when his auto-immune condition presented some serious complications. The 12-year-old one of six children and his dad is on active military duty, so a 16-hour road trip was out of the question. Our pilots provided three round-trip flights for Blake and his mom, each one a three-leg relay.


So how does it work? Simple. To qualify for an AFW mission, a patient must:

  • Be medically stable and ambulatory.
  • Have a scheduled or pending appointment for services not available locally (remember, we're not an emergency airlift service).
  • Have a valid financial need or other consideration. We trust you on this! We don't ask our passengers to verify their financial information, so if you tell us the need is genuine, that's enough.
  • Be capable of sitting upright.
  • Be able to fly in a small, unpressurized aircraft.

Along with medical flights, we're also happy to help with transportation for kids traveling to specialty camps (like those for young burn survivors, cancer patients, etc.), domestic violence survivors who need to relocate, veterans and active military personnel, and anyone with a compelling need. 

When weather keeps our pilots grounded, or for longer flights -- especially for patients traveling from Alaska to the Lower 48 -- our partner Alaska Airlines donates more than 900 tickets each year for people like Carleen.

It's not easy being the mother of five, especially when you're battling breast cancer. This is what Carleen was facing. Following months of chemotherapy, she needed reconstructive surgery that's not available in Nome. Here's what she wrote after her trip to Seattle.


"I just wanted to send along a huge thank you for making this flight possible for me. I am so grateful Alaska Airlines partners with you, as that is the only way for me to get to Seattle. The procedure was successful and I had a quick recovery. Thank you so much for meeting the flight needs of people in bush communities! "




To request a flight or learn more about how Angel Flight West can help, please call (888) 426-2643 or visit the website, www.angelflightwest.org

Angel Flight West will complete more than 5,000 flights this year and we'd be honored to have your patients on board. Because sometimes the road to health is a runway.






NWRPCA welcomes and regularly publishes white papers and articles submitted by members, partners and associates with subject matter expertise. The appearance of any guest publication in our Health Center News database represents the views of the author and does not constitute endorsement by NWRPCA of the stated opinions or perspectives, nor does it suggest endorsement of the contributor's products or services.



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