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MASA introduces new service to SVG

MASA introduces new service to SVG


The air ambulance facility provided by the Medical Air Service Association (MASA) has been described as a necessity for persons living in St Vincent and the Grenadines and other islands in the region.

Senior vice-president of International Marketing at MASA Reginald Anderson visited these shores last week and, during a chat with SEARCHLIGHT on February 10,{{more}} explained that the services provided by the company he represents, at times means the difference between life and death.

Locally a person can pay a monthly or yearly contribution that will entitle them to a number of air ambulance and other medical transport services. The monthly fee is EC$27 for a single person and EC$54 for a family. There is a registration fee of EC$162, which is waived for government employees.

It must be noted that MASA is not an insurance company, but a transport company, providing, among other things: Emergency Air Transportation/Medical Evacuation, Helicopter Transportation, Ground Ambulance Transportation, Organ Retrieval, Organ Recipient Transportation, Recuperation/ Repatriation, Escort Transportation, Non-Injury Transportation, Minor Children/Grandchildren Return, Vehicle Return, Mortal Remains Transport, Worldwide Coverage, Caribbean Only – Partner Enhancement Provider Program and Caribbean Only – Hospital of Your Choice Addendum.

Said Anderson, “if the hospital cannot provide you proper service or care, we would get you to a hospital that can.”

He said that persons can be flown as far away as Miami, once they are cleared to fly by a doctor and are accepted by the hospital.

The airplanes and helicopters are medically equipped and are operated by a medical staff. There is no age limit to signing up and no health questions are asked, while there are different airplanes to fulfil different runway specifications. The service operates with, King Air, Navajo and Lear 55 planes and is based in St Croix. It takes an hour and a half to get to SVG, which is more than enough time for a person to be stabilized for flying.

MASA’s country manager George Gordon said that locally, persons have used the service and in one instance, a youngster who was struck in the head with a stone, was flown to Trinidad and received life-saving treatment.

He said that once a doctor is not able to help you in St Vincent and the Grenadines, MASA is available to fly you overseas, but medical treatment must be paid by the patient and not MASA. MASA is only responsible for transportation.

“Once it is identified that what you need is not available here, we have a 24-hour team that will help you find a specialist hospital and once you have an accepting hospital we will evacuate you by ground ambulance, then air ambulance and then another ground ambulance overseas that would take you to the hospital you are going to,” said Gordon, who noted that prices are locked in and would not increase if you use or do not use the service.

However, there is a 90-day pre-existing condition, but once you become a member, after 90 days everything is covered.

“There are over a million members, so every member pays for another member,” said Gordon, who revealed that MASA also pays for commercial airline tickets for inpatient treatment overseas, “which means if you have to spend more than 24 hours in a hospital, we will pay for your commercial ticket.”

He said that MASA staff is on duty 24 hours a day to respond.

MASA is 41 years old and began operating in the Caribbean in St Thomas in the 90s, while they set up shop in SVG in 2013 and opened an office in the Kenmars Mall on Halifax Street in 2014. Locally, they have over 1,000 members, while they operate in 18 other countries and regionally in countries like Trinidad, Bermuda, The Bahamas, Antigua and Barbuda, St Kitts/Nevis, St Lucia and Grenada.(LC)