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L C M E D S O C .O R G
for their living expenses, on top of the substantial medical costs. We To achieve this goal, Angel Flight East has begun a new program,
were able to intervene, and thanks to one of our many generous pilots, "Rural and Rare Reach."
transport Brayden and his mother without them having to move or pay
any expenses for travel.
The Rural and Rare Reach program aims to broaden access to available
high-level medical care for rural patients, persons with cancer or rare
Like most compassion flight organizations, Angel Flight East has specific diseases and children with serious congenital conditions. This program
territories in which we're able to operate. This includes the mid-Atlantic will allow us to execute outreach to underserved populations by focusing
and Northeastern region of the United States, covering 14 states from on healthcare organizations in regions with less access to specialist care,
New Jersey to Ohio and from Virginia to Maine. If a situation arises specifically rural communities in Pennsylvania, Virginia, West Virginia
where a patient needs to travel further than these distances, we work and Ohio. Our goal is to disseminate information throughout these
with compassion flight organizations operating in other regions who organizations to increase our reach and to provide more information
arrange further travel.
on the services Angel Flight East provides.
All of our volunteer pilots are certified general aviation pilots, a unique
aspect of our services which helps ensure patients reach their destinations.
These volunteer pilots use their own planes and cover all costs associated
with the flight. It's our responsibility to coordinate and schedule these
missions with the pilot. Since many of these patients need multiple
treatments, pilots will often transport the same person multiple times.
In many instances, I've seen an incredible bond form between pilots,
patients and even patient families, building relationships that last even
after our services are no longer needed.
Often times, patients and their families are concerned that requesting
and receiving approval for a flight will be an arduous task. This is simply
not the case with Angel Flight East. We understand the importance
of being quick and efficient in arranging travel, especially given the
circumstances. Working with physicians, social workers and other health
care professionals who can verify a patient's medical suitability to fly and
financial need, we make the entire process relatively simple, allowing us
to provide as many flights as possible to as many patients as possible.
In 2017 alone, Angel Flight East flew 131 patients and family members approximately 87,304 nautical miles to their required destinations.
This included 1,338 hours of travel during 829 scheduled flights. And
we're always looking to extend our reach and help more people. Our
goal is to get in front of as many health care professionals as possible,
considering most of the requests we receive for flights come directly
from physicians and social workers acting on behalf of their patients.
It's important people who know our story tell it to others so we can
continue to build on this new program and educate people on our
mission. For those just learning about compassion flight organizations
such as Angel Flight East, you now have a new resource available. For
physicians who have or know a patient who lacks the financial ability
to travel for medical care, compassion flight organizations can make all
the difference in the world.
Ellen Williams is the executive director of Angel Flight East, a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization
based in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. Angel Flight East is dedicated to serving the community by
facilitating free air transportation for children and adults with medical conditions who need
to get to treatment far from home. For more information, please contact Ellen at ewilliams@
angelflighteast.org or call 215-358-1900.
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SUMMER 2018 | Lehigh County Health & Medicine 27
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