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Medical Specialist Shortage Impacts Tri-State

January 13, 2016, is a day Whitlee Smith’s family will never forget. That’s when she went into a coma. Her grandparents found her unconscious in their Madisonville home the next day.

“I was pretty much on my death bed like I wasn’t supposed to make it or anything,” says Smith. “So the doctor decided that he was wanting me to be life-flighted to Evansville.”

Smith’s family says Baptist Health did what they could, but she needed care from several specialists located in Evansville. However, the doctors were concerned she wouldn’t make it through the 45-minute ride to the hospital.

“The doctors that I remember meeting and the nurses, they were amazing. Like they went above and beyond,” says Smith. “God put those people in my life at that time that I needed.”

Smith says she credits her survival and miraculous recovery to their quick reaction and thorough care.

“Oh my gosh, I owe them my life up front and honest. I owe them everything because of them I’m here,” says Smith. She tells 44News she has a newfound appreciation for life. “I’ve even started doing stuff I never thought I would like working out and weightlifting.”

She also appreciates having health insurance since her medical expenses ended up being $33,000. Thankfully, her insurance covered the cost. With a life-saving ride like this, that hefty price tag is not out of the ordinary. One trip in an air ambulance can cost nearly $25,000 alone.

Air Evac tells 44News each of their bases averages one trip a day. Most of those bases are in rural communities where 70% of the patients are not covered by a commercial health insurance company. It’s always a good idea to be proactive, which means now is a good time to make sure you are protected. You can talk to your insurance provider to see whether or not you need to add air ambulance coverage.

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