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Sun, Feb 15, 2015

Southwest Airlines Connects Patients To Critical Medical Care

More Than 100 Hospitals And Medical Organizations To Benefit From $3.2 Million In Free Flights In 2015

As many as 101 medical facilities including nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations from across the nation will benefit from the Southwest Airlines 2015 Medical Transportation Grant Program announced Tuesday. Through the program, participating nonprofit hospitals and medical programs provide complimentary, roundtrip airline tickets to families who need to travel for specialized medical care. Receiving world class medical attention is more attainable when the cost of travel is not an issue.

In 2015, Southwest says it will provide more than $3.2 million in free transportation to caregivers and patients seeking medical treatment, a 14 percent increase from the 2014 program.  "We care about the communities we serve and are honored to partner with like-minded hospitals and medical transportation organizations," said Linda Rutherford, Southwest Airlines' Vice President of Communication and Outreach.  "We are proud to help fill the gap between where patients live and where the doctors they need practice so patients can receive the treatment that best supports them."

Since the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program's inception eight years ago, more than $16.4 million in free transportation has been distributed to organizations in 26 states, making a positive impact on the lives of more than 41,000 individuals. Andy Furmann and his family are just one example of those impacted by the program. In 2013, Andy was in a life-changing ski accident that left him partially paralyzed from a spinal cord injury. Andy traveled from his home in Massachusetts to Atlanta so he could receive treatment at Shepherd Center, a hospital, research facility, and rehabilitation center specifically for people with spinal cord or brain injuries.  Through the Southwest Airlines Medical Transportation Grant Program, Andy's father was able to balance work at home while also visiting Andy in Atlanta. According to Andy, his father's presence during his treatment was just as important as his physical therapy and medical treatment. Visit the NUTS About Southwest blog to read Andy's story and learn more about the positive impact of the Medical Transportation Grant Program.

"As one can imagine, when you have a catastrophic injury, finances become tight," said Anna Elmers, M.D., a staff physiatrist at Shepherd Center in Atlanta. "Southwest Airlines' Medical Transportation Grant Program has been a wonderful way of allowing family members to see their loved ones who are undergoing rehabilitation at Shepherd Center. Having loved ones near provides the patient with important emotional support during their recovery.  We are so thankful for our partnership with Southwest!"

To learn about qualifications for travel assistance through the designated organizations, please contact the Social Work, Travel/Concierge Service, or Patient Assistance Department directly at each location, as each has unique guidelines for the administration of tickets.

FMI: www.southwest.com/citizenship, www.southwest.com/medicalgrant

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