Featured Articles: Resources and Opportunities

Free Patient Transport with Angel Flight West

Thursday, April 17, 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Joy Ingram
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by Kathleen Masser, Program Outreach Coordinator, Angel Flight West

Sometimes, a patient needs care your facility can’t offer. So you refer them to a specialist. Their insurance -- private or public -- will cover the treatment but they have no way to get there. And when the destination is hundreds of miles away, getting there can seem impossible.


Pictured, from right: Command Pilot Stephen Booth, Alisha, her mom and brother, and mission assistantTom Kuhlman

That’s what happened to the “Duncan” family in Shelton, Washington. Four-year-old Alisha Duncan has a rare and aggressive form of scoliosis and was referred to a specialist in Salt Lake City. But the family simply couldn’t afford airline tickets and their car was in no shape to make the 1,800-mile round trip. Fortunately, Alisha’s case manager knew about Angel Flight West and gave us a call. This photo shows Alisha on her first trip with AFW. When they landed, she said she really enjoyed it (although she missed her dad).Angel Flight West bridges the gulf between home and health care, and gives hope for a better future to patients and their families. 


Through our network of volunteer pilots and partnerships with commercial airlines, Angel Flight West provides approximately 4,000 flights each year. Besides flights to access health care, we can arrange transportation for other needs as well -- individuals and families escaping domestic violence; injured military personnel taking part in therapeutic programs; prospective parents hoping to adopt a child; and flying youngsters and teens to special needs camps like those for burn survivors or kids with cancer.


And yes, it’s all free. There’s no charge to the passenger, the hospital, or the requester.


In addition to our generous volunteer pilots, we also have a partnership with Alaska Airlines, which donates 800-900 tickets each year. At least three-fourths of these flights are allocated to residents of Alaska who need to travel to the Lower 48 for treatment. And last year we launched a new alliance with PenAir, which has agreed to donate tickets for patients from Aniak, Cold Bay, Dillingham, King Salmon, McGrath, Sand Point, St. George, St. Paul, and Unalakleet who need to travel to Anchorage for care.


Here’s what some of your colleagues have to say about Angel Flight West.


“I had heard about AFW, and thought that the organization might be able to help one of my clients.  Boy, was I right!  I would not hesitate for a moment to strongly recommend AFW for anyone who needs, but does not have the means, for medical-related travel. If AFW wasn’t there, then what would we do?  I hope I never have to answer that question!” -- Todd Wilder, Disability Advocate, Boise, ID

“I want to thank you and Alaska Airlines for the support you have provided to veterans requiring assistance with travel for medical needs. It is often challenging for those veterans who are not eligible for VA travel and cannot afford to pay for airfare. Your assistance has often made a critical difference in connecting Alaska veterans with the care they need.” -- Barbara Martin, LCSW, Department of Veterans Affairs, Anchorage, AK


“The services you've provided for our Tribal patients are not only excellent, but exceeded expectations. For that service and opportunity, I sincerely thank you.” -- Jasen Hendersen, Northwest Tribal Cancer Navigation Program


“I often have patients who must travel to Portland to receive more specialized treatments. For some, traveling by car for five hours is too much of a hardship. I have been able to arrange a flight for these patients at no charge through Angel Flight West. This is an extremely valuable service that helps to connect our patients to needed care.” -- Gail Kessler, LCSW, Rogue Valley Medical Center Radiation Oncology, Medford, OR


“Beyond words, Angel Flight West is such a valuable resource.” – Erik S., Social Worker, Seattle Children’s Hospital.


“Angel Flight West has become an integral part of our program to deliver care to multiple sclerosis patients who live in underserved areas of our state. The availability of Angel Flight West has already had a very significant impact on our ability to care for the very deserving patients who ordinarily would have very limited access to the medical care they need.” -- Dr. Stanley Cohen, Director, Providence Multiple Sclerosis Center, Portland, OR


Keep in mind, this is not an emergency airlift service. It’s for individuals who need to get to appointments scheduled in advance.


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


In the words of a mother whose son was a veteran of 120 Angel Flight missions,“Even the most brilliant doctor cannot save a life if the patient isn’t there.”

 Meet Norma W., a long-time resident of Salmon, Idaho. Adored by everyone who knows her, she’s affectionately known as Miss Norma. She’s been flying with AFW since April 2012 for bi-weekly treatment for pancreatic cancer at Seattle Cancer Treatment and Wellness in Renton, WA. Without Angel Flight West, she’d have to endure a grueling 12-hour drive. We’re delighted to report that Miss Norma’s health is steadily improving.
That’s Miss Norma in the middle, with AFW volunteer pilot Stanley Dammel on the right.


His legal name is Jonathan, but everyone calls him Jack. Jack is 10 years old and he has a brain tumor. For months, his family made the long drive between Ashland and Portland, where Jack gets his chemo treatments at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital.In August, they learned about Angel Flight West, and now Jack’s a frequent flyer, with two round-trips a month. We’ll be there for him and his family as long as they need us.

Jack (on the right) with his sister Alex and AFW volunteer pilot Scott Gratsinger, as they prepare to leave Ashland. The whole family has learned the ‘aviation alphabet’ and think Whisky Bravo is a pretty cool name for a plane.

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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