Medical innovation never stops moving and evolving to meet the next challenges. New technology, methods and knowledge constantly advance our ability to help patients get back on their feet and on with their lives. And what many people may not realize is that a lot of this depends on transportation, and aviation in particular. Aviation helps to transport medicine and supplies, including in times of disaster; it brings patients to treatment and medical facilities; and it helps to transport blood, organs and platelets. It literally connects people to the treatment they need on a daily basis.
Over 7 million Americans rely on artificial knees and hips, and my company, American Medical Concepts, distributes orthopedic and surgical implants across the Northwest, including to Alaska and Hawaii. As the United States’ elderly population increases, more doctors are turning to companies like mine to learn how to use new implants and techniques to meet this growing demand.
Initially, our sales team had to spend days on the road trying to connect with local doctors and hospitals to teach them about the products and how to use them. When we started using general aviation in 2000, it greatly helped us grow our business. We could connect with doctors in rural areas on short notice, and we could fly doctors from their practices to our training labs. In the case of serious accidents, when the closest hospital is not a Tier 1 trauma center, my company will fly spinal and trauma implants to the hospital, and often, if a patient needs to be moved between hospitals, we volunteer our aircraft for an “angel flight.”
In the case of my business, and for a lot of communities throughout Oregon, small aircraft and airports play an integral role in connecting communities to the resources and services we need. But because it is not always the biggest airports that we use, it is Congress that governs this system and ensures that communities of all sizes which are important to our national economy and infrastructure remain funded and protected. But I’m concerned this may not be the case if we privatize our air traffic control system, as some in Washington are now suggesting that we do. Under this proposal, sweeping decisions about system access, fees, and local airport investments, among many other things, would get made by a private board dominated by the biggest, commercial airline interests. You can guess where that would leave the smallest aircraft and airports.
Oregon has long been known for its independent spirit, and I encourage our leaders to follow that spirit and keep our air transportation system public and overseen by Congress.
Chip Goodman is the CEO and chairman of the Board of American Medical Concepts, a medical technology distributor since 1989.