Every day, free medical flights provided by volunteers are making a huge difference in how patients receive treatment from the best doctors and hospitals. Angel Flight and PALS are a few examples of the many organizations providing free flights to patients with demonstrated medical and financial needs.
Marco Bitran, an experienced volunteer pilot and entrepreneur from Boston, MA, shares why this service is so important to many patients with serious illnesses and medical conditions and how you can support the cause of free medical flights for those in need.
The Importance of Free Medical Flights
Frequently, the best medical care for a patient’s needs is not available in their local area. This is especially true of patients who live in rural and underserved areas with a lack of quality doctors and hospitals. These patients can sometimes access the care they need, lowering their quality of life and perhaps endangering them.
Free medical flights such as those provided by PALS, Angel Flight, and other members of the Air Care Alliance can help to connect patients with the quality medical care they need in specialty areas. Marco Bitran understands that having access to medical care outside patients’ home regions is one of the greatest advantages of free medical flight programs.
How Patients Qualify for Free Medical Flights
Pilots donate their time, money, and the use of their aircraft to these programs. This means that patients are most frequently flown in small, four- to six-seater planes that cannot accommodate stretchers. Patients need to be ambulatory, able to board small aircraft with little assistance and sit upright in a standard airplane seat for the duration of the flight. Many services welcome children, who need to be properly restrained if over the age of two. Flights are non-pressurized.
Free medical flight services provide transportation for patients with a wide variety of conditions. They transport patients who require chemotherapy, surgery, radiation, dialysis, and other procedures.
Some medical flight programs also help veterans and other deserving groups. However, these flight services generally do not provide flights for people who need to attend a funeral or complete a non-medical task.Mar
Marco is recognized for a recent Angel Flight
Angel Flight NorthEast publishes a Thankful Thursday newsletter. In a recent newsletter, Angel Flight recognized Marco Bitran for his recent flight.
This passenger has been impressed by the kindness of our pilots & their willingness to help a stranger in need. Many of our amazing pilots volunteered for multiple trips & we had the opportunity to help with ground transportation with volunteers including Ground Members from Watertown Ford, PJM Executive Car Service & Earth Angel Sister Mary.
This passenger shared the kind note below after her most recent trip:
“I had such a nice day with Marco. I am healing really well. I’m back at work full time too!”
As with all our patients, this passenger is forever a part of the Angel Flight NE family. Mission/Flight requests — like this one — happen daily and we, as pilots, are privileged to have the opportunity to not only fly but deeply care for all who turn to us for help at difficult times in their lives. As with all of the patients, we are here for these individuals for as long and as often as they need our help, and to ensure the best possible outcome.
How You Can Help Free Medical Flight Programs
Medical flight programs are incredibly expensive to run and always need monetary donations. The cost of one charitable flight can add up to thousands of dollars when all of the expenses are considered.
Donors are always welcomed for free medical flight programs. The generosity of individuals who can provide funding, even if their contribution is relatively small, adds up in the end.
Donations are often tax-deductible, providing an incentive for people to give money to these and other charitable programs.
Pilots interested in flying free medical flights should contact one or more of the programs in the Air Care Alliance. These organizations are generally regional, flying patients to not-too-distant areas. In some cases, charitable flights may require a longer commitment and a cross-country flight.
Pilots must be prepared to pay all of their expenses when undertaking a free medical flight. Some organizations will reimburse their pilots for fuel, but not all organizations can afford to do so.
Only highly experienced pilots are encouraged to apply to volunteer for these programs. They must have a certain number of flight hours and be instrument rated. The safety and comfort of free medical flight patients must be considered, and quality pilots are needed.
Making the Healthcare System Fair for All
The unavailability of crucial medical services in some parts of the country is an essential inequity that needs to be addressed. By providing free transportation, medical flight programs can help remedy this problem and make sure that patients with many different types of medical needs are properly treated.
The Importance of Donors
Without the generosity of donors like Marco Bitran, both those giving monetary gifts and those donating their time, free medical flight services would not be able to operate. People of all ages may be unable to receive the care they need to survive. Having free medical flight services available means that more patients will recover from serious illnesses.
Helping Free Medical Flight Services Operate
Marco Bitran wants potential donors of time and money to recognize how crucial their contributions could be to the cause of free medical flights. Without the availability of these services, a significant gap in the healthcare system could be exposed.
Pilots who want to volunteer for these organizations should ensure that they have the proper training and experience. They should research all of the groups operating in their area and find the one that is the best fit with their abilities. Connecting with fellow pilots and volunteers can be highly rewarding, and pilots who take the time to work with these programs can feel a strong sense of personal satisfaction in doing good for the community.