Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Spotlight: Mercy Medical Airlift

There are so many people in the nonprofit world that are doing great work. One such organization is Mercy Medical Airlift. Mercy Medical Airlift and its various components arrange for people with serious, and often life threatening, illnesses to be transported by air to much needed medical care. They do this through direct flights piloted by volunteer pilots or by arranging for transport on commercial carriers using donated frequent flier miles.

I am working on an upcoming blog on mission statements and found Suzanne Rhodes (Director of Public Affairs) article regarding "mission" to be interesting. Those nonprofits with a clearly defined sense of mission are more likely to succeed through good times and bad.

Acquaint yourself with the work of Mercy Medical Airlift, go to their website, read the various stories of the people they have helped and then make a donation of cash or frequent flier miles. And tell your friends. Someone you know may very well benefit from the services they provide. Bunnie

Keeping the Mission Torch Burning

by Suzanne Rhodes, Director of Public Affairs

Our business at Mercy Medical Airlift puts us in touch with hurting humanity 24 hours a day but also brings hope when we offer the gift of flight to patients who need to travel to distant, specialized medical facilities. I’m reminded of a phrase used by Jesus as He offered relief for people’s grinding weariness, saying, “My burden is light.”

This is what we do here—we help make burdens light. And while, like any organization, we have to tend to the business side of things—finances and efficiencies, technologies and marketing, forecasting, staffing, and trends as sudden and diverse as newly-spotted stars—keeping faith with the mission is what matters most. In our case, the mission is to make sure no patient in need is denied access to specialized, medical care because of inability to pay for air transportation.

We offer charitable flights in small, private planes through our volunteer pilot program. We offer donated commercial airline tickets through our special lift program. We offer discounted air ambulance flights through a program called Air Compassion America. We match patient needs with appropriate travel resources through our National Patient Travel Center Helpline that is operational day and night. In fact, the numbers just came in from 2009 showing we served 21,003 clients. That’s a lot of veterans and children, cancer patients, burn victims, the elderly, and patients with rare disorders whose lives have been improved or saved because, as we often hear from those we serve, “I was able to get the best medical care in the world.”

We keep the torch of mission burning in many ways. Staff members rotate pager duty so they can answer after-hour calls from patients. The mission statement is displayed in all our offices. Our CEO inspires us at special luncheons and events when he shares from the heart. Many of us post pictures of our patients on bulletin boards and share their stories with each other and through our electronic and print newsletters. Compassion is our core.

When a sense of a higher cause infuses the workplace—especially when the place is a nonprofit charity like Mercy Medical Airlift—the details of daily operation—from running the overhead to sharpening a pencil—become significant as elements of a purposeful whole.

Suzanne Rhodes is the director of public affairs at Mercy Medical Airlift in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and the author of Angel Flight Mid-Atlantic, Sacred Glances and several books of poetry. She assisted in the creation of an award-winning documentary, Compassion Takes Flight.

Links to Mercy Medical Airlift websites:

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