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Medical Escort via Rail

by Lux Joseph 8. November 2013

Do you have a family member that needs to return home with a medical escort, but flying is not an option? Commercial Medical Escorts wants you to know that there are alternative ways in which we transport patients. A majority of our cases are patients who are transported home on a commercial airline, but each and every month we are faced with a case, in which the patient is unable to fly due to their diagnosis, maybe they have a fear of flying or potentially another obstacle. For these particular situations, CME is able to transport the patient back home by train, ambulance, bus, town car/limo, and even wheelchair vans.

CME will always explore each option available to ensure the best means of transportation has been selected for the patient to ensure quality patient care and comfort. You may have a patient that is 100% non-ambulatory that needs to go from Fort Lauderdale to New York. The patient needs to remain lying flat at all times. A flight is obviously not an option. An ambulance or limousine is a possibility, but you are looking at 20 hours of ground transport with a stop or two along the way to ensure quality rest of the drivers. Not to mention that the cost will be several thousand dollars. Why not consider Amtrak? A single train transport with no switching trains and generous accommodations can put you in New York in approximately 27 hours. The length of the transport may seem long, but your patient can be comfortably situated in an accessible bedroom for under $1,000.00 per ticket. Our clinician asked our patient that was recently transported by train what she thought of the experience and her reply was “This was easier and more comfortable than I ever would have expected. As a patient you have all kinds of concerns going through your mind, but having a smooth transfer and a clinician to provide the needed support, the process is effective and puts you at ease.”

CME’s travel department has a special working relationship with Amtrak and their special services desk. Whenever a patient is transport whether it is by plane or train, having a great relationship with the operator of the mode of transportation allows a smooth transition for the patient. Very similar to the airlines, Amtrak is able to provide wheelchair assistance, accessible cabin rooms, and other special services that are specific to the needs of the patients we transport. Those travelers that travel in a roomette or bedroom are served complimentary meals throughout the journey. This past week one of our clinicians transported a patient from Washington, DC back to Florida on Amtrak. The PT had an accessible bedroom and the clinician had a connection room adjacent to the patient. An accessible bedroom is large enough for standard wheelchair to fit without issues. All the amenities including the bathroom are designed to meet the needs of those travelers with disabilities.

Patient safety and comfort is our number one priority at Commercial Medical Escorts. Understanding the different resources and methods of transports available help us to better meet the needs of our patients. Amtrak could be the option for your patient and our medical team will determine if they qualify for rail transfer. Medical escort via rail can offer substantial cost savings and CME looks forward to assist you with making that happen.

 

 

Holiday Travel Trends

by Lux Joseph 25. October 2013

The holiday season is just around the corner. Thanksgiving is considered one of the busiest times to travel and that only means an increase in business at Commercial Medical Escorts. According to the US Department of Transportation Bureau of Transportation Statistics, during the 6-day Thanksgiving travel period, the number of long-distance trips (to and from a ­destination 50 miles or more away) increases by 54 percent, and during the Christmas/New Year’s Holiday period the number rises by 23 percent, compared to the average number for the remainder of the year. CME’s business is focused around individuals who fall ill or injured while they are traveling around the world. It appears like this year will be no different than previous years in terms of business, but the airlines show ticket costs to be on the rise.

Airlines Reporting Corp (ARC) has reported that airline ticket prices have increased 9.4% from last year for flights to the US and Caribbean during Thanksgiving week. Sales for tickets at Christmas time have also increased 7.3%. It appears that each and every year costs are continuing to increase. These numbers only represent an increase in the base fare. That doesn’t take into consideration the fees and taxes that have increase over the year as well. These increased fares are representation of airline consolidation and decreased airline routes; two efforts made by airlines to reduce costs and be more effective players in the travel industry. Their goal is to fill the plane, and that is what they are doing. Years ago you would get onto the plane and once the boarding door closed you would have the opportunity to move around, stretch out, or be fortunate to have a row to yourself. Today that is rare. You are more likely to hear an announcement from the agent at the gate looking for volunteers to take an alternate flight because the current one is overbooked. When looking to purchase your travel arrangements it helps to do so early and do your research.

The holiday season is a critical time period for airlines to make up for lost revenue in the fall/winter.  Holidays are guaranteed travel because it is a time when families want to be close to relatives and friends. Choosing the right days for travel can present cost savings. For instance, in a recent study completed by CheapAir returning on Saturday as opposed to Sunday will yield a 10% savings. When it comes to moving patients during the holidays we are faced with very limited availability and high costs. Almost every year CME will have a request to move a patient on the Wednesday prior or Thanksgiving Day. As with most of our requests, they typically come in within 24-48 hours of an anticipated repatriation. As I am sure you can imagine, availability on the airlines is very limited and the tickets have a high price point. Being home for the holidays with your family is priceless and each year we look forward to being able to do the impossible to make that happen for those passengers requiring a medical escort.

 When traveling during Christmas and Thanksgiving it is a smart idea to make your travel arrangements in advance. Years ago booking at the last minute sometimes offered cost savings due to airlines wanting to fill their last seats available. Today that is no longer the case. Almost every flight is full and when the flights are full that typically means the fare is higher. Flexibility to change your flight is usually nonexistent and if you miss a connection it may mean spending the night in an airport. Booking your flight early will always be a positive choice.  Things to consider when booking your holiday travel include: 

·         Connections: Look at your connection times carefully. You should build sufficient time in for delays, weather, and getting to your connecting gate. The 40 minute connect

·         Be Early: It is important for you to arrive extra early at the airport during busy travel times. Busy travel times mean increased security lines, full parking lots, increased check in times, and additional luggage being checked. 

·         Airport Selection: Understanding the airport you are arriving into is critical. In Boca Raton, FL we have three airports to our disposal: West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and Miami. Looking into all airports can offer cost savings and during travel season smaller airports may be less hectic.

 

Commercial Medical Escorts is wishing you safe travels this upcoming holiday season. Should you fall ill or injured and need a medical escort to take you home, we will be readily available and hopefully can get you home to enjoy the holiday with your family and friends.

Jetblue to Introduce Lie Flat Seats and Suites on Transcontinental Flights in 2014

by Lux Joseph 23. August 2013
When transporting patients around the world, we are continuously awaiting to see new routings, products, and classes of services provided by the airlines and their partners. Each and every patient has separate criteria for transport and depending on the needs of the patient we need to align the best routing available. We transport our patients in a business class/first class seats, but even when you look at premium classes of service there are different products. Some of these products and enhancements that we are particularly interested in include lie flat seating, angled lie flat, plane seating configuration, and direct routing availability. We are pleased to find out that JetBlue will be introducing lie flat seating in 2014 on their transcontinental flight on some of their most popular routings.
 
Currently some airlines that offer this product include Delta, American, and United. However, we are hoping that JetBlue entering into this market will introduce lower fares and more availability for this premium product. There are many patients that need to be transferred within the United States via air ambulance. However, many of these patients could be a candidate for a commercial stretcher service. Unfortunately no domestic airlines currently offer stretcher service, but these newly added premium products can offer an alternative for a patient who needs to lie flat during transport. To qualify for this the patient has to be able to sit up for takeoff and landing, but they will be able to remain in a stretcher position (lie flat) for the duration of the long haul flight across the United States. When our operations department is working with our travel department to secure the best routing for a patient availability of this product is currently limited and sells out very quickly. With Jetblue introducing this in the second quarter of 2014 we are looking forward to being able to provide additional options for our clients.
 
Jetblue is recognized across the travel industry as low cost American carrier. Other lost cost carriers include Southwest and Air Tran. What sets Jet Blue apart from the other lost cost carriers and the big players in the airline market are that it continues to conquer in areas of efficiency, customer satisfaction, and innovation. Many may view JetBlue as a carrier that is late to introducing this product, but when Jetblue delivers a product they make sure their product is top quality. Jetblue buys only new planes which tend to need less maintenance. This new product will be on the new Airbus A321. We can anticipate it starting with their nonstop routing from New York to Los Angeles and New York to San Francisco. Jetblue will also be the one and only airline to offer individualized suites within their premium class of service. Jetblue states the configuration will be:
“The new lie-flat seat, created in a partnership with Northern Ireland-based Thompson Aero Seating, will be displayed in a unique 2-1 configuration. Rows 1, 3 and 5 will offer 2-by-2 seating, and rows 2 and 4 will offer private suites, with one seat on each side of the aisle.”
 
 
CME is looking forward to the additional service that JetBlue will be offering to travelers in 2014. This will increase the options for medical escorts. A patient traveling from overseas connecting through New York will be able to continue onto LAX or SFO with the same lie flat service and potentially at a lower fare than the competitors are currently offering.
 

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