COVID-19 patient who was in St. Maarten arrives at MIA, taken to Aventura Hospital

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AVENTURA, FLA. (WSVN) - - A Miami resident who was on the island of St. Maarten had to be flown to Miami International Airport and taken to the hospital in Aventura after he contracted the coronavirus while on vacation.

7SkyForce HD captured the 63-year-old man’s medical flight, operated by Jet Rescue Air Ambulance, arriving at the airport at around 9 p.m., Thursday.

“Our air ambulance company is one of the few that is equipped to provide aeromedical isolation transport,” company spokesperson Steven Shai Gold said. “This particular case is a member of our community.”

The company is based out of Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport.

Because of patient confidentiality, the name of the Miami man transported cannot be disclosed. According to Gold, time was of the essence to bring him back to South Florida for treatment.

“The patient is on vacation in a location that does not have the appropriate medical infrastructure to handle the risks associated with COVID-19,” Gold said. “Very rapidly, the situation started revolving from regular symptoms to troublesome symptoms and the patient being in a critical risk to his life.”

Jet Rescue Air Ambulance stabilized the 63-year-old prior to the nearly three-hour flight to MIA. After arriving at the airport, he was taken by ground to Aventura Hospital for immediate treatment.

For the crew on board the aircraft, the working conditions is the same as working inside of a hospital’s intensive care unit.

“It’s the same risks, the same dangers and similar approach,” Gold said. “All of our staff, including pilots, they have to wear the biohazard suits. It makes it very challenging to fly the aircraft, very challenging to treat the patient, who was both in an isolation chamber in a small area, and the staff is also dressed in this additional protective gear.”

Gold said the company has been prepared to help coronavirus patients.

“They know how to do it,” Gold said. “We have done it several times the last two or three weeks. There seems to be an increase in the need to transfer patients in critical care from locations that have no understanding or equipment to deal with the situation back to the U.S., where the hospitals are better prepared at this stage to deal with that.”

In the last three weeks, the company has had at least one flight a day from countries in the Caribbean and Latin America to South Florida. The service is not free, however, and travelers must have it included in their travel medical insurance.

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