March 10, 2014

Southwest Airlines provides Vanderbilt patients with free flights

by Jerry Jones

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is one of 73 nonprofit hospitals and medical organizations selected for the Southwest Airlines 2014 Medical Transportation Grant Program. It is the fourth year Vanderbilt has received a Southwest transportation grant.

The grant is administered by Vanderbilt LifeFlight and will help approximately 60 Vanderbilt patients reduce the burden of air travel expense during times of illness by receiving free roundtrip tickets.

“We have patients fly to Vanderbilt for treatment from all over the country,” explained Elizabeth Worsham, a supervisor with Vanderbilt LifeFlight Discharge Transport and administrator of the grant.

Worsham said many of the grant’s recipients are seeking cancer treatment at Vanderbilt. Others have been involved in motor vehicle accidents while traveling and could not afford the trip home.

Worsham works with Vanderbilt’s case managers to evaluate the needs of each patient and distributes the Southwest tickets accordingly. The tickets also allow one family member to travel as a caregiver if needed.

Nationally, more than $2.8 million is provided each year through Southwest’s Medical Transportation Grant Program to help people with health care-related travel expenses. Vanderbilt is the only hospital in Middle Tennessee, and one of only two hospitals in Tennessee, to receive the grant this year from Southwest.

“We are extremely grateful to Southwest Airlines for providing these tickets for these families during such a difficult time in their lives,” Worsham said.