Medical flights service closing the gap to healthcare access

A NEW Fraser Coast-based not-for-profit flight service is about to take-off, offering patients a quicker, stress-free and cost-free way of accessing specialists in South East Queensland.

Community Flights will begin transporting patients from regional areas to specialist doctors for treatment and appointments later this month.

The charity organisation is the brainchild of Mark McMurtrie and Melissa Lay.

As a pharmacist and pilot, Founder and Director of Community Flights Mark realised there was a growing strain on regional and remote hospitals with a lack of medical specialists in the area.

Many of his own pharmacy patients have been driving long distances and usually at all hours just to make their early morning Brisbane appointments.

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Mark knew that his passion for flying could be put to a greater purpose by helping these struggling patients

With many people requiring specialist treatment in Brisbane, planning for or making the commute to the city could often become an added stress and expense for patients who are already doing it tough.

The Community Flights mission is closing the gap to healthcare access, while relieving the financial and emotional stress of the travel process.

Good News Fraser Coast caught up with Melissa, Community Flights Director of Operations on Friday afternoon.

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Melissa said the organisation was founded late last year.

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Since then, it has been full steam ahead getting the necessary background work done before the first flight takes off.

“Community flights has been really well-received by the local business community and we have had a lot of interest among people wanting to help sponsor the service or make donations,” said Melissa.

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She said interest among doctors with potential patients needing flights as well as interest among the community was equally high.

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Patients who require ongoing non-urgent medical treatment or appointments can apply for our free flights on the Community Flights website.

Melissa said all applications are then assessed by the patient’s doctor to triage and confirm flight suitability

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The program will be a door-to-door service so patients will be transported by TransitCare to their appointment or accommodation once they reach Archerfield Airport in Brisbane.

“It’s a really ambitious target, but our aim is to provide 960 flights a year once Community Flights is in full swing,” she said.

While the team jumped into action to help airlift doctors and passengers during the recent floods, Melissa said their main goal right now is to make sure all the necessary steps are in place to ensure a smooth operation after take-off.

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“For us, transparency is key.”

For more information on Community Flights or to donate to this great cause visit the organisation’s website or Facebook page.

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