Boston’s transit service had busiest year in 2021, on track to break record in 2022


Rick Sobey
Boston Herald

BOSTON — Coming off of its busiest year ever, Boston MedFlight is on pace to set a new record for critical care medical transports as many patients have delayed treatment during the pandemic.

The association’s teams moved more than 5,600 patients by helicopter, plane and land ambulance during its 2021 fiscal year, which ends September 30. This represents on average more than 15 patients every 24 hours.

The nonprofit's crews transported more than 5,600 patients by helicopter, plane and land ambulance during its 2021 fiscal year, which ends September 30.

The nonprofit’s crews transported more than 5,600 patients by helicopter, plane and land ambulance during its 2021 fiscal year, which ends September 30. (Boston MedFlight)

Last year was a 19% jump from fiscal 2019 compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Boston MedFlight has treated more than 2,000 critically ill COVID patients.

The virus helped make 2021 the busiest year ever, but “that’s not the whole story,” said Boston MedFlight CEO Maura Hughes.

“What we are seeing unfortunately during the pandemic is many patients who have delayed their care,” added Hughes. “Many chronically ill patients didn’t want to go to the doctor, maybe they gave up surgery, and now they’re showing up sicker than they would have been in previous years.”

The busy trend has continued this year, as Boston MedFlight flies more patients per day than throughout last year.

“If it continues at this rate, we’ll set another record in 2022,” Hughes said.

The region’s health care system has been understaffed over the past two difficult years.

“We’re able to move patients around the system to make sure no hospital is overwhelmed,” Hughes said.

Boston MedFlight recently provided critical care medical transport to its 90,000th patient since the organization was founded in 1985.

Going forward, the nonprofit will soon add a jet to its existing fleet of critical care transport vehicles, which includes five H145 twin-engine helicopters and eight ambulances. Boston MedFlight will purchase and retrofit a medically configured Cessna Citation CJ4 jet aircraft to transport critically ill or injured patients.

“We will be able to travel longer distances and serve more distant patients,” Hughes said. “We will be able to provide much more reach for our services.”

The organization partners with a consortium of Boston-area hospitals, including Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston Medical Center, Lahey Hospital and Medical Center, Massachusetts General Hospital and Tufts Medical Center.

The nonprofit cares for patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Last year, Boston MedFlight provided more than $7.2 million in free, unreimbursed care to underinsured and uninsured patients.

Boston MedFlight seeks donations to support its nonprofit mission. For more information or to donate, visit www.cgiving.org/donate/BMFGiving.

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