Expansion of rotor wing fleet based on current and future community needs
Mercy Flights leadership announced the purchase of new helicopter this week to support the growing medical transportation needs in Southern Oregon and Northern California. The new Bell 407 GXi aircraft is scheduled to arrive at the Mercy Flights headquarters in Medford during the second week of January and will begin transporting patients by the beginning of February, pending FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) approval. According to Mercy Flights CEO, Sheila Clough, the decision to add a rotor wing aircraft to the Mercy Flights fleet followed an extensive community needs assessment, including input from the flight team and healthcare and community partners, as well as access to a special non-profit financing option from the Oregon Facilities Authority.
“When we looked carefully at the current and future needs of our neighbors and our health care partners, it was clear that a new helicopter was the answer to enhance the care and service we provide for our communities. The special loan rates will allow us to expand our fleet while maintaining affordable memberships and services,” said Clough.
According to Clough, who served as CEO for Asante Ashland before joining Mercy Flights in June of 2020, Southern Oregon hospital systems are becoming more advanced in the level of care they provide.
“More patients are staying in Southern Oregon for advanced, or tertiary, hospital care. This is incredibly good news for all of us who live here. It also means that the demand for medical transports is changing. We anticipate, in the near future, fewer flights to bigger cities like Portland and Seattle because our local healthcare partners are providing incredible care right here at home,” said Clough. “What we need in our region is additional capacity for transport to and between facilities.”
Due the rural nature of Southern Oregon, Clough also explained that an additional helicopter is the best solution for responding to more remote medical transport requests.
To honor the Mercy Flights’ Southern Oregon roots and founder George Milligan, Clough partnered with board member and Milligan’s granddaughter Pirkko Terao and her family to select tail number N973MF to signify George’s year of retirement with the FAA.
“Mercy flights continues to invest in the health and wellbeing of our Southern Oregon and Northern California communities, said Clough. “As the only nonprofit air and ground medical transport company in Oregon, our decisions to invest in new equipment and technology are measured and thoughtful. We don’t make them alone, we collaborate with our skilled team members, our board of directors and our valued community to grow with the needs of our neighbors, friends and families. We’re here for the long haul.”