5 Air Ambulance Characteristics Every Health Care Provider Should Research

Making an informed decision about your patient’s medical transportation is not an easy task. In fact, as a health care provider or social worker, it’s probably one of the more frustrating day-to-day tasks you have. For some reason most air ambulance websites are either geared toward individuals or insurance employees — even though it’s far more likely that case workers like yourself will be the ones arranging the flights. There are five air ambulance characteristics every health care provider should research before they hire a service, and you’ll know exactly what they are after reading this article.

Before we begin, let’s talk a little bit about the two most important concerns every health care provider has when it comes to air ambulances. The five things we’re about go over were specifically chosen for how they relate. The two concerns every health care provider has are:

  • Quality patient care
  • Time management

Quality patient care is often one of the biggest concerns for medical providers; and this is especially true when it comes to air ambulance services. There are a lot of patient transport services to choose from, but you cannot assume that patient care will be consistent among them. In fact, this is something that tends to vary greatly among providers.

The second biggest concern is time management. As a case manager or social worker, you’re expected to serve both as patient advocate and dispatcher. This can be very time consuming for you, but a well trained company can help by taking care of things on their end to make sure they are ready to fly at a moment’s notice.

Now, a good way to make smart choices about patient transport is to follow a check-list. This will also help by making the whole process a lot less overwhelming for you. Just because you’ve been tasked with the responsibility of hiring an air ambulance service, it doesn’t mean you need to start right from square one every time.

There are five areas to pay special attention to when arranging medical flights. They are:

  • Amenities
  • Safety
  • Risk
  • Customer service
  • Affordability

Hopefully, you can see how each of these areas will have an enormous impact on patient care and time management. Let’s briefly go through them and see what you should be looking for.

Amenities. Air transport has come a long way since the original army helicopter model. Learjets are not exactly commonplace in the industry, but are used by some of the superior air ambulance companies and can afford your patient more room and better access for loading and unloading.

Safety. Something that is not required of air ambulance services is the ability to fly at special altitudes that reduce the minimum vertical distance of aircraft. This unique type of certification can cut down on delays due to air space restrictions.

Risk. Risk to the patient can be reduced dramatically simply by ensuring constant care is administered from the time the patient enters the air ambulance until he or she is transferred to a bed at the receiving hospital. In the industry, this is referred to as bedside-to-bedside care.

Customer Service. Most companies provide at least some level of customer service. What you want to look for is consistency and quality. Every staff member you come into contact with should have the ability to answer your questions and solve problems.

Affordability. It should cost your patients a fortune to receive this higher level of patient care. When you’re doing your price comparisons, look for companies that offer middle of the road pricing without any major sacrifices to the other services mentioned here.

Lastly, you’ll want to give careful consideration to location. Don’t just overlook this aspect because it seems so obvious. Airplane or not, it will take your ambulance longer to reach you if they’re not centrally located.

It’s preferable to find a company that services a specific region. That way you’ll know they’re familiar with the area, and already have existing relationships with the nearest medical facilities.

If you are a case worker that’s committed to finding the best air ambulance service for your patients, you’re not alone. Amenities, safety, risk, customer service, and affordability are all factors that play a key role in patient care and time management — the two areas most important to you. You can use this guide as a template while you gather the information you need to make a responsible decision.

Mexico Health Care – A Guide For US Retirees

When planning on moving to Mexico a primary concern should be healthcare. People who have moved to Mexico are very lucky since Mexico health care is generally very good, in most places, it is positively exceptional.

Many health care practitioners in Mexico receive at least part of their training in the United States and many American doctors have trained in Mexico, notably in Guadalajara.

Every mid-sized to large city in Mexico has at least one first-rate hospital and a big plus about health care in Mexico is that the costs are generally half or less than one might expect to pay in the U.S.

The same thing also applies for prescription drugs. Those prescription drugs that are manufactured in Mexico are about fifty percent less on the average, compared with similar drugs manufactured in the United States.

There are two options to consider for healthcare in Mexico: IMSS (Social Security) and Private.


Thousands of U.S. retirees are moving to Mexico and taking advantage of IMSS – Mexican social security healthcare (Instituto Mexicano del Seguro Social).

Mexico has allowed retirees and people who wish to stay in the country for a longer period of time to contribute to this scheme, this is the closest to socialized medical coverage as it is possible to get.

There are some pre-existing conditions that would prevent you from coverage by way of IMSS. The typical cost of payment is calculated having a full time job on a minimum wage salary; the cost will increase marginally each year.

You can apply for IMSS on the official government web site by answering general health care, medical history and a questionnaire. The annual fee will give you access to resources like regular doctor and dental checkups, emergency surgeries, lab tests from your doctor, prescription medicine and even eyeglasses.

In a recent article about IMSS from USA Today, the paper said “The system has flaws, the facilities aren’t cutting-edge, and the deal may not last long because the Mexican government said in a recent report that it is notorious for losing money. But for now, (American) retirees say they’re getting a bargain.”

Many retirees move to Mexico from the US as they cannot afford the healthcare and the IMSS system is the best there is.

It is not altogether clear how many Americans use this IMSS system, however with between 50 and 80,000 retired Americans living in Mexico the numbers are probably in the thousands.

The Mexican social security is cautious that this plan may need reviewing and may not be sustainable if thousands more American re locate to Mexico.

You may not get the luxury treatment of a private room with TV, and phone, and if things do go wrong the Mexican court system is not on a par with the US and does not provide much recourse. However it is an affordable way of protecting yourself against medical emergencies while living in Mexico.

Private Healthcare

Private health care in Mexico is far less expensive than in America. Paying by cash for an appointment could always be an option. A general medical consultation may cost around $30 USD, but be warned costs are more expensive in major tourist destinations and big cities.

Very few Mexicans have private health insurance, but this sector is growing. There are also very good medical centers in towns and smaller cities often frequented by tourists.

Private clinics or hospitals in more rural locations have a tendency to be owned by groups of local doctors or physicians varying in levels of training. Their facilities and technology are not as sophisticated and cutting edge, but are adequate to treat minor illnesses.

Most private hospitals do not accept foreign health insurance, and will require a credit card or cash payment before any treatment. However, if you are critically injured or in grave health a private hospital will do everything they can to stabilize your condition then you would be transferred to an IMSS or Government hospital.

There is also talk of Americans being able to use Medicare or Medicaid insurance in Mexico health care facilities by the end of 2010. So really, whatever option you go for, you can be sure of accessible, high quality, well priced health care should you decide to retire to your own home in the Mexican sun.

Universal Primary Health Care

Primary Health Care is the Foundation of all Health Care Systems. A strong PHC will build strong healthy populations. Compared to Secondary and Tertiary Health, it only costs Governments a small fraction of the Gross Domestic Product. However, because it is not Glamorous, most Governments, especially Developing Countries neglect it at great cost to their suffering populations. and would rather waste huge amounts in building Fancy Hospitals for the 10 % who are mostly there because of the failure of the PHC System due to inadequate funding and lack of population health education.

However the World Health Organisation has pleaded with all Governments to ensure “Health for All” and PHC can bring solace and comfort to 90% of the Population of the World and instituted 21st Century Millenium Development Goals to guide each country’s shortcomings. Essentially PHC covers 5 Strategies, 1st is to provide Preventative Health Programs like Compulsory Vaccinations Schedules for young and old, Screening programs like Pap’s Smears and Mammography for Women to detect Cancer early and Blood and Urine Screening to detect Chronic Non-communicable Diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, Heart Problems and Respiratory difficulties and of course School Health as well as well -grounded Ante-Natal and Post -natal Programs for the growing populations, especially for the poor and needy.

The 2nd Strategy is to use the various Public Media to Promote Healthy Life Styles against Alcohol, Smoking, Narcotic and other Habit forming Drugs, Educate on Proper Diets and Appropriate Exercise programs to keep People Fit and Healthy. 3rd Strategy is to have adequate PHC Clinics to look after Acute Disease presentations which appear suddenly and have the potential to kill rapidly. 4th Strategy is to manage Chronic N-C Diseases which have increased dramatically and produced so much morbidity and reduced quality of lives. ( upto 50 to 70 % of people bove 30 years of age, Finally 5th Strategy is to Rehabilitate those who have contracted Disabilities due to motor vehicle accidents, strokes and heart attacks to live comfortably as their Human rights and be able to perform their Activities of Daily Living with dignity and privacy.

Primary Health Care is NOT an option BUT a basic human right for every citizen. It therefore becomes a political agenda which every responsible person should value and push for when considering their future Governments. Every country which has invested in a well-organised and developed Primary Health Care System has harvested rich rewards in producing productive populations who in turn have raised the standards of living and equity and justice among all their fellow citizens.


Wellness, Stress and the American Health Care System

A number of years ago, changes in my life style led to a transition from working as an RN in Emergency Departments to a private practice in hypnotherapy. I had no idea the impact this would have on my life and the potential it holds for transforming the health care system as we know it, in addition to individual lives.

As I began treating patients for the usual fears, phobias, unwelcome habits and to prepare them for surgery something else was happening. They would call back saying that in addition to managing the primary issue, other changes were happening as well. For instance, one man said the psoriasis he had for 20 years was gone.  Another woman who was scheduled for surgery on her knees got better. One woman began to sleep through the night for the first time in her life. One man whose broken arm had not healed for 9 months returned to his doctor to find it had suddenly healed.

Reviewing literature and anecdotal reports, I’ve come to the conclusion that stress is the underlying issue in the vast majority, perhaps as much as 90%, of health issues.   In the mid 1950’s Hans Selye encouraged doctors to “treat the whole person, not the organism causing illness” and yet that suggestion has not yet been adequately integrated into our systems. 

In the February 27, 2008 issue of JAMA, Thomas R. Frieden, MD, MPH writes

“If reforming US health care results only in expanded access to care, costs will increase faster but with limited health benefits. If only cost controls are instituted, even more individuals will be denied access to care. Health care must be restructured to make maximizing health the organizing principle. To do this, 3 synergistic changes are needed:

(1) payment that offers substantial rewards for disease prevention and effective management of chronic disease;
(2) an information system oriented toward prevention; and
(3) changes in care management and practice workflows.”

Let’s consider how managing stress could impact the current crisis in health care funding.

Janet Kiecolt Glaser, University of Ohio Medical School did a study measuring the rate of healing of a small, intentional wound (size of an eraser on a pencil). The wound took nine days longer to heal on the group experiencing stress versus the control.   Think of the implications of this on diabetics and wound healing. Would you be stressed if you were diabetic with a foot ulcer? How about patients undergoing surgery who are “scared to death”? Reading about the history of hypnosis and surgery, it is said that back in the early 1800’s surgery was done without anesthesia. When hypnosis as anesthesia was introduced, the mortality rate decreased from 40% to 5%.

Blue Shield of California gave a group of 941 women undergoing surgery a guided imagery (hypnotherapy) CD which cost them $17.95 each. This reduced the per patient cost by $2,000 on average.

Similar studies and results abound. This is such a simple, powerful, affordable intervention. Why is it not commonly done?

How about reducing stress among asthmatics, IBS patients, cancer patients, couples seeking fertility treatments, people with dental phobias? Insomnia. Think about the implications of sleep deprivation which can be caused by stress.  The applications are endless. Studies support these applications and others.

Hypnosis was approved by the AMA in 1958 – 50 years ago. Since then the trend has favored pharmaceuticals. In my opinion, it’s time to revisit that. Hypnotherapy is evidence based, effective, affordable and without adverse side effects. It manages underlying stress that impacts our physical and mental health, our ability to heal and ultimately our quality of life.

Health Care Success – How to Avoid Hospital Acquired Infections

The Health Care Encounter

“Don’t touch me!” That’s probably what George should have said to his doctor but he didn’t. Most patients don’t. I was in George’s room to assist with the completion of a health care power of attorney document. George was in isolation due to an infection. Anyone could tell he was in isolation as a result of the “big” sign outside of his room that alerted all those who entered of the proper precautions. The precautions included putting on a hospital gown and wearing protective gloves.

The gloves and hospital gown that I had on did not interfere with my conversation with George. What stopped us was George’s physician who came into the room to join the conversation without his gloves or gown. George’s doctor preceded to touch everything including the patient, bedrail and my nerve!

Yes, I understand that physicians can be very busy. The problem is that bacteria and germs do not care who they attach themselves to. My thought immediately turned to “who” was the unsuspecting patient he would see next?

Health Care Consumers at Risk

“Gowning and gloving” as they call it in the hospital is time consuming but essential to stop the spread of infection. Health care acquired infections kill as many as 90,000 people annually in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Another 1.9 million people nationwide who develop such infections endure longer stays in the hospital. Approximately 5 to 10 percent of all hospital patients develop infections.

More Americans die each year from hospital acquired infections than from auto accidents and homicides combined. Even though the problem is well documented, the risks of getting a hospital infection have steadily increased.

The good news is that health care facilities can reduce infection rates significantly by proper implementation of infection control practices, especially hand washing. Unfortunately, many hospitals have not done so. According to the National Quality Forum, most studies report hand washing compliance rates that are generally less than 50 percent.

Safety Strategies

With these frightening statistics in mind, here are several action steps that an empowered health care consumer can do to decrease the likelihood of a hospital acquired infection.

o Use anti-bacterial wipes to clean the telephone, TV remote and bedrails. Studies show that many patients’ rooms are contaminated with MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (Vancomycin-resistant Enterococci).
o Request that all hospital staff wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer before touching you.
o Wash your hands frequently.
o Be sure that all intravenous tubes and catheters are inserted under sterile conditions.
o Choose a surgeon with a low infection rate.
o Ask your doctor if you need to take an antibiotic prior to surgery.

The Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths http://www.hospitalinfection.org offers a comprehensive guide to reduce your risk of acquiring a hospital infection. Arm yourself with as much information as possible. Remember, prevention works, and don’t be afraid to say, “don’t touch me!”