Boston MedFlight, the nonprofit responsible for transporting patients from Nantucket to Boston for critical care they can’t receive on island, has acquired a fixed-wing jet to expand its transportation capabilities.
The jet, a Cessna Citation CJ4 twin-engine, can travel in certain weather conditions that Boston MedFlight’s helicopters, which have historically provided service to Nantucket, cannot fly in.
“The jet will have some weather capabilities that the helicopters don’t,” Boston MedFlight Chief Operations Officer Andy Farkas confirmed.
Specifically, the jet can travel in cold weather with freezing precipitation. The helicopters, which have no de-icing capabilities, have to remain grounded in such conditions. Additionally, the jet will expand Boston MedFlight’s range and is particularly well-suited to long-distance transports.
“Ultimately, it can go up to 1,500 miles,’ Farkas said.
This will allow Boston MedFlight to transport patients from more distant areas of the country who need to come to Boston for care they can’t receive elsewhere or to see specialists based in the city.
But that won’t prevent the jet from coming to Nantucket.
“In fact, we started operation about two weeks ago and we’ve done three to four transports already to Nantucket,” Farkas said. And the expanded range will help Nantucket residents as well. “We recently took a patient from Nantucket down to New York,” Farkas said.
Boston MedFlight transports around 400 patients from Nantucket each year, including an average of 3-5 every day during the summer season. In line with its mission as a nonprofit, the organization cares for patients whether they can pay or not, and provides over $7 million in free care annually, including about $1 million each year for Nantucket patients.
The jet isn’t replacing the helicopters, which will still regularly service the island. But especially in the winter, when federal regulations sometimes keep the helicopters on the ground, it will provide a new dimension of care for Nantucket residents.
“We are excited to have the [jet] in service,” Maura Hughes, CEO of Boston MedFlight said in a statement. “While the majority of Boston MedFlight patient transports are done by helicopter and critical care ground ambulance, having an airplane asset represents an essential resource to expand our capabilities to and from longer distance hospitals and when weather conditions dictate.”