Beginning in 2002, AngelFlight (then Airlifeline) and its outstanding volunteer and paid staff began work with IHS Headquarters CHR Program to develop instructional materials for demonstration projects with local CHR Programs. AngelFlight is a national, non-profit organization of private pilots who donate their time, skills, aircraft and fuel to fly ambulatory patients to receive medical care at no cost to the patient or family. In an extraordinary humanitarian gesture, Angel Flight waived any kind of fees for AI/AN patients.
Angel Flight regional staff served as the pivotal point for service coordination with the primary pilot site, the Blackfeet CHR Program and tribal community located in remote Browning Montana. This initial project required intense coordination with and through a variety of entities including CHR Program staff, the medical and business office staff at the local IHS, local and destination airport authorities, tribal officials and of course volunteer pilots of AngelFlight who are the heart of these services to needy and underserved patients.
Through the knowledge, expertise and dogged determination of Ms. Claudia Bannon, Angel Flight volunteer, necessary guidelines were established and relationships developed. She championed the need for Angel Flight volunteer and paid staff to receive cultural awareness training and early buy-in from tribal community leaders.
Over the course of time, 26 flights have been requested; 18 cancelled due to weather, rescheduling of surgery, patient illness or no available pilots; and 8 flights completed for patients. The cost-savings to patients and their families has been remarkable. More importantly, the opportunity to enhance the time families have to spend with their loved ones has been priceless.
For exemplary service and the relentless pursuit of collaborative partnerships to provide a means for health care services delivery to tribal members and the community, it is indeed an honor to present Angel Flight with this national CHR Program award.
L to R: Dr. Charles North, Acting Chief Medical Officer, Indian Health Service,
Claudia Bannon, AngelFight
and Cathy Stueckemann, National CHR Program Director