Air Methods doubles capacity to transport patients in need - 13 On Your Side's Arlette Yousif reports
YUMA, Ariz. (KYMA/KECY) - With only one hospital in Yuma County, it’s not uncommon for patients to be flown to Phoenix or another major city for emergency healthcare.
Air Methods, the parent company of TriState CareFlight facilitates these critical flights and has been serving the Yuma community for over 20 years. As of July, the company doubled its capacity by adding a helicopter back to its fleet.
For one Yuma family, these flights are a lifeline.
Maria Candela’s 11 year old daughter, Alessandra, has special needs.
“The care that she requires is not available in Yuma. We’ve used this service since she was little,” says Yuma resident Maria Candela.
Alessandra has been flown on an airplane and a helicopter several times with TriState, and each moment counts for them.
“Five to six hours, some-- depending on the situation, it could be minutes, it could be hours," explains Candela.
A nearly three hour drive cut down to just under an hour by flight. Critical moments in a life-or-death situation.
“When she gets sick, she gets sick fast,” says Candela.
Candela’s daughter isn’t the only one who needs to fly out of Yuma for medical attention.
“Border Patrol actually called us for a patient who was very sick. He had been out in the sun for over five days. If we weren’t there to respond to him, there’s no way he would have made it to a hospital by ground ‘cause it would have taken hours. Whereas for us, it took us 20 minutes to get him to Phoenix,” explains TriState FlightCare Flight Nurse Haley Rae Stinson.
Twenty minutes to Phoenix from Gila Bend.
“We can provide care to them in-flight, so it’s almost like they’re already at a hospital ‘cause we can provide every service that [an] ICU does in the air so they’re getting treated while we’re flying them to where they need to go,” says Stinson.
Stinson says with insurance, patients could pay around $120 for the service. The company also has a patient advocacy program for patients who don’t have insurance to alleviate the stress that comes with medical emergencies.