Ministry of Health Paying $358,000 For Emergency Medical Evacuation by Air
Tuesday, June 22 2010 @ 09:47 am EDT
Contributed by: Don Winner
On average, the companies charge $2,800 dollars an hour for the rental of medical helicopters, said Health Minister Franklin Vergara. Patients, mostly from the remote provinces of Darien, Chiriqui and Bocas del Toro, have presented symptoms of acute appendicitis, impending childbirth, dehydration, injuries by knife or fire, among other life threatening conditions. According to the Presidency of the Republic, the Legacy 600 can land at the Tocumen International Airport, the Enrique Malek airport in David, the Alonso Valderrama airport in Chitré, on Isla Colón in Bocas del Toro, in Metetí in the Darién, at Marcos Gelabert, and at Howard.
Defending The Contracts - Vergara Minister said that whenever there is any need in remote areas, President Ricardo Martinelli has provided support with the Legacy 600. This, however, is far from reality because the Ministry of the Presidency has only reported that the Legacy 600 has been used for seven flights - all international. Rentals - In addition to this, the MOH manages the payment of $71,000 paid to other companies for the rental of ground ambulances, which have been contracted to provide logistical support for different events, most recently the International Fair of Azuero. Besides the presidential plane, Vergara said they have been supported by the National Civil Protection System and with "courtesies" - donated use of private aircraft. He argued that with the current crisis of equine encephalitis, the Ministry of Health hired an air ambulance to cover the areas of Metetí and Tortí. For this service, the Government will have to pay $25,000 per week. (Panama America)
Editor's Comment: It seems to me the government of Panama should have at least one very capable and robust medical evacuation helicopter on call 24/7. In case of extremes or national emergencies they could then outsource and let contracts to pick up what they can't handle internally.