Patients and families caught in a health crisis requiring distant travel can find assistance through a new program called Airlift Hope Southeast, according to a news release from PRNewswire. Airlift Hope Southeast offers charitable and charitably-assisted medical air transportation options in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina and Tennessee, said the organization’s Suzanne Rhodes.
By dialing 770-320-0172, callers can receive a free consultation from resource specialists matching needs with appropriate travel programs, Rhodes said. Patients, families, case workers, and health care professionals calling for help will be triaged and referred to one of three modes of transport, depending on the need. This includes air ambulance for non-ambulatory patients, charitable airline tickets, or transport in light aircraft flown by volunteer pilots.
Airlift Hope Southeast is a regional arm of Mercy Medical Airlift. MMA is “the nation’s largest and oldest national nonprofit organization facilitating charitable medical air transportation,” Rhodes said, adding that it has received Charity Navigator’s highest four-star rating for six consecutive years.
Airlift Hope Southeast’s mission is “To ensure that no patient is denied access to distant, specialized medical evaluation, diagnosis or treatment for lack of a means of long-distance medical air transportation; and to ensure that emergency air transportation needs are met in times of personal or community disaster, either natural or man-made.”
In addition to helping patients, Airlift Hope Southeast coordinates with HSEATS (Homeland Security Emergency Air Transportation System) and its response to natural or man-made disasters on southeastern and southern U.S. coasts, Rhodes said. HSEATS completed more than 2,600 flights in support of Katrina disaster relief efforts in 2005.
Dr. Peter Stacpoole, associate dean for clinical research and training at the University of Florida College of Medicine, praised Airlift Hope Southeast as “a new national paradigm for providing healthcare delivery for those who traditionally have fallen through the cracks of our healthcare system.”