Aerocare Air Ambulance Blog


Everything You Need To Know About Medical Repatriation

August 28, 2019


Repatriation has become a popular term in the last decade, especially with so much news on immigration policy change, but what really does repatriation mean? Repatriation is just a fancy term for bringing a person back to their state or country of origin. More often than not, repatriation refers specifically to getting a person to their home country.

At AeroCare, we assist in helping with Medical Repatriation. If a patient is in a foreign country and has been sick or injured, many times their traditional self-funded health insurance will not assist with the mounting debt that is accumulating in the foreign hospital. In these situations its best to immediately contact the local embassy for your country of origin, let them know you or your family member is sick in the local hospital and you request they make note that you have alerted them to your presence in a foreign hospital.

The next step would be to immediately call the AeroCare AeroMedical Case Manager on duty, explain to them where you are, city and country and where you need to go to for repatriation.

What Items should you have when calling AeroCare?

  • City/State/Country (they are coming from and need to be flown to)
  • Name of Hospital
  • Name of MD caring for patient and a verified number for contact
  • Patients full name
  • Date of birth
  • US health insurance ID
  • For Canadians we will need the Canadian Health ID Card Number
  • Passport/Visa information

Repatriation can seem like a daunting task, the feeling of being absolutely helpless in a foreign country, very often with a language barrier and at the mercy of a foreign hospital. We have done thousands of transports across the globe and can overcome any obstacle. We have a network of local handlers that are our eyes and ears on the ground to be able to coordinate the ground transport and permits needed to land in foreign countries.

Our AeroMedical Case Manager will work with the family and our Clinical Team will work hand-in-hand with you to select an appropriate facility, we are so fortunate to have three strategically placed bases in the US in AZ, FL and our headquarters in Chicago. Due to the home town connections we have with the hospitals in those states we can assist in attempting to get acceptance into a hospital. Ultimately the hospital has the final say on acceptance.

Is my loved one too critical to travel?

Information is gold when dealing with a foreign hospital. Before accepting a medical mission, your AeroMedical Case Manager will gather the pertinent demographics and a verified contact number for the physician or nurse treating the patient. We will utilize many of our multilingual staff to assist in translation, if needed, to assist in gathering the current medical status. Once the mission is accepted, the medical team will liaise with the Medical Director and VP of clinical operations to formulate a best and worst case scenario plan of care.

When the mission is launched, and if safe to do so, the Medical Team will go bedside and get an additional report as well as perform their own medial assessment. They are in constant communication with both the Medical Director and the VP of clinical operations. It’s vital to know, that once our team makes contact with the patient, no matter where in the world, your loved one is immediately elevated to ICU status of a the best US hospitals. We never want to do more harm by flying a patient, and take great care to deliver the patient to their home state or country in a more favorable conditions than we encountered them.

The hospital is telling me to wait? Who should I believe?

Many times in foreign countries, sadly, some physicians and hospitals have unscrupulous practices. They may even attempt to take your Passport and immigration documents in lieu of satisfactory payment. This is why it is so important to have an extra copy back home to a trusted friend or family member. The hospitals know that often your health insurance policy does not cover foreign stay. Therefore, in addition to attempting to bill, they will require cash payments daily. They also have been known to ask you to go to local pharmacies to purchase the medications your loved ones may need, as many foreign countries have no script needed pharmacies. The hospital and doctor have a vested interest in keeping you for as long as possible to continue to get the daily cash payments. In these instance it’s vital you make the call sooner rather than later to have our Clinical team at AeroCare step in and give you unbiased advice as to if flying the patient would do more harm.

Call AeroCare at 800-823-1911 or request a free quote.