Airlift Northwest's History
By Shelly Deering
September 16, 2009
In 1978, a Sitka house fire left 3 children severely burned.
Dr. Michael Copass, founder of Airlift Northwest, was teaching
there at the time and spent the day assisting Dr. Longenbaugh
in caring for and trying to arrange transfer of these critically
injured children to the regional burn center in Seattle. The
children died before this could happen.
Dr. Copass came away from this experience saying "This is
the last time any doctor will have to get on the phone and beg
someone to come help a child." Airlift Northwest was born,
and for more than 27 years we have transported critically ill
or injured patients from Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. A
plane has been based in Juneau for over 15 years to further improve
service to our Alaska patients.
To date we have flown approximately 7000 patients out of Southeast
Alaska. Our nurses and pilots average 400 hours of community
service each year, which includes teaching classes to health
care professionals, attending health fairs, and other activities.
Airlift Northwest is the only Southeast Alaska provider that
is certified by the Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport
Systems (CAMTS) an international certification with a focus
on clinical excellence and safety for patients and crew.
Airlift Northwest is a non-profit organization with the financial
goal of covering costs and utilizing remaining funds to upgrade
equipment and aircraft. Rates increase each year with the cost
of living to accomplish this. Our rates are comparable to flight
programs in Anchorage, Washington, and Oregon. To assure the
most experienced nurse teams and the highest quality patient
care possible, we are affiliated with Harborview Medical Center,
University of Washington and Seattle Children s. These outstanding
medical facilities are our partners in patient care - they do
not provide financial subsidies.
Airlift Northwest is committed to transporting extremely sick
patients whether they live in Alaska or elsewhere. All emergent
flights are charged the same. We are very aware of soaring health
care costs and the toll they take on our patients. To help,
we offer a Special Assistance Program to financially distressed
patients. Each year that fund provides approximately $5 million
to cover their care from Airlift Northwest. We also offer our
AirCare membership program for $79 a year, which covers the cost
of transport that isn t picked up by a patient s insurance.
We are proud of our excellent record of patient care, our community
service and our prudent fiscal management. Our roots are deep
in Southeast Alaska and we plan to be here "serving Alaskans"
for many years.
Airlift Northwest Alaska Manager
Received September 15, 2009
- Published September 16, 2009
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