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Ravn Alaska offers free flights to rural cancer patients to receive treatment

Published: Jan. 30, 2021 at 7:48 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) -Boarding time for Ravn Alaska passengers flying to Dutch Harbor. They paid for their tickets. That’s not always easy for many people, especially cancer patients.

“There are hundreds of cancer patients across the state we could not serve, and we could not help with flights, without Ravn Alaska’s partnership,” said Charissa Habeger, community development director at American Cancer Society in Alaska.

Ravn Alaska is again offering free flights to cancer patients from rural communities seeking treatment in Anchorage.

“It’s such an easy thing for us to do to reach out and help those individuals that are already going through so much,” said Ravn Alaska CEO Rob McKinney.

Ravn will offer cancer patients six one-way flights a year for treatment in Alaska. They can also get two one-way flights a year to go out of state. Medical caregivers will get half off their tickets to fly with patients.

“We’re able to significantly increase the geographic area we can serve,” said Habeger. “And help patients from all across the state get to where they need to go for their life-saving treatment.”

But the start of the pandemic changed that.

“What we saw were patients putting off care and screenings,” Habeger said.

Another challenge came in March 2020 when Ravn Air Group shut down after it went bankrupt. However, Alaska Airlines helped when Habeger says it donated 1 million frequent flier miles to help transport patients.

Ravn has since resumed service with new owners, much to the delight of the American Cancer Society.

“We can not help any Alaska cancer patients without our flight partners,” Habeger said.

Ravn Alaska has given cancer patients one less thing to worry about as they undergo treatment.

Doctors, clinicians, support staff, or patients themselves may call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to request flights at least three business days in advance. Medical staff may also request patient flights by submitting a patient referral form by contacting Charissa Habeger at the American Cancer Society in Alaska at charissa.habeger@cancer.org.

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