It was one year ago this month I received a call from my sister in Atlanta, Ga. At 9:00pm. My mother had been in a severe auto accident. She was visiting my sister from California and was hit by a truck going approximately 55mph in her tiny Fiat rental car. While I awaited the results of CAT scan, I was looking online for the next flight to Atlanta. So many things went through my mind at once. After the results of her scan came back, my sister told me she had bleeding behind her sternum, a broken hand and broken foot. They were transferring her from the local hospital to the trauma center downtown.
I arrived at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport at 4am the following morning. My flight to Atlanta left at 6am and I arrived at Atlanta Medical/Trauma Center around 2pm. My mom had survived the accident but now had a long road ahead of her, including the task of returning home in her current condition.
In August of 2015 I was on Trinity Air Medical’s transport nurse employee list and a practicing RN. I had a few patient transports under my belt and knew what it entailed. I kept thinking, “I should call Seth for help” but then I thought….I AM who he would send! I WAS the help!
With a fractured foot in a cast and a newly operated hand in a cast (on opposite sides), hearing loss in the left ear, severe nausea, severe pain, PTSD and anxiety; I knew this transport would be a challenge. Her trauma surgeon and admitting doctor were not going to release her to go home back to California. They wanted her to go directly to a rehab facility in ATLANTA! There was no way my mother was going to stay in Atlanta for 8 weeks for rehab. She informed me she would leave against medical advice if she had to. For five straight days I worked diligently to prepare my case to present to her doctors. I knew what it would take to get her home and it wasn’t going to be easy. She was non-weight bearing on her right foot and her left hand. What this meant was she could not use a walker, crutches or push her own wheel chair. I had to figure out how to get her on board the aircraft, get her up to the bathroom, transport her from the plane to a shuttle and then home.
I was on the internet from day #1 looking for resources. Scanning the internet in a city that I was unfamiliar with the first challenge. I needed a wheelchair transport to the airport. I needed ground transportation at LAX to take us to the lot where her car was parked. Then what? How was I going to get her to the car? She cannot walk? I needed a rental wheelchair in Los Angeles ready when I arrived. I needed a ramp at her home. I needed a bedside commode. We needed to get her a doctor’s appointment scheduled and schedule her rehab in California if I was going to convince her doctors to discharge her into my care. I researched at night so I could make my phone calls the first thing in the am California time.
By day #3 I had rebooked our air flights in anticipation that the doctors would release her to fly home with me on Thursday. On day #4 I made my case to both her surgeon and admitting doctor who came to see her around 4pm that evening. I told them first of all I was an RN (which had little impact towards my plea), then I informed them that I had performed a few patient transports in the past and that I had experience in this type of transport. I continued to show them the plan I had laid out and how I would get her home safely to attend her rehab in California.
The doctors finally agreed to let her travel via aircraft home to California based on the fact that I was 1) a nurse and 2) I had experience performing medical transports.
Transporting my mother from Atlanta to California was one of the most physically, emotionally and logistically challenging things I had ever done in my life. Every move we made along our 10 hour journey had to be well thought out: Ground transportation in both cities, rebooking air travel, lavatory use, preventing nausea and pain during the flight, pre-flight arrangements with the airlines, baggage management. Add up all those hassles to the anxiety my mother was already experiencing and you can see why I was concerned.
I can say this, by personal experience, I know what it takes to get a sick/disabled loved one from point A to point B via commercial aircraft. It is NOT an easy task. I know what it takes from a logistics standpoint, but I also know what it is like from the family’s point of view. The anxiety, the worry, the fear of the unknown. The time-consuming task of numerous phone calls and internet searches just to make sure all my ducks were in a row! If I did not have the experience of transporting patients in this type of condition I would not have been able to bring my mother home safely. I don’t even want to think of how the situation would have turned out differently if I was not able to have performed this transport or I did not know there was a company out there like Trinity Air Medical to help me out.
Let us help you and your family member the next time you are faced with this type of situation. Our clinicians are experienced and know how to minimize this stress of this type of travel. We plan for those “what-ifs” and do all the scheduling for you from bedside to bedside.
We DO believe there is a better way of helping those traveling with medical needs.
-Cheryl Aisporna, RN
Daughter of Molly K. and Director of Clinical Operations with Trinity Air Medical