Dome home blank
Search Dome


Skyrocketing Generosity
A year after Southwest Airlines began offering vouchers for travel expenses to Hopkins, demand is growing.

In today’s climate, the subject of air travel can provoke eye-rolling and complaints. But for some 150 patients at Johns Hopkins and their social workers, the mention of one airline—Southwest—produces smiles.

A year ago, the air carrier launched Share the Spirit Medical Transportation Grant Program. The project provides one-time, round-trip vouchers to Hopkins and eight other major medical institutions for out-of-state patients and their families whose travel expenses would otherwise cause major financial hardship.

In recent months, says Carol Stansbury, Hopkins Hospital’s social work council chair, many requests for Southwest vouchers have been granted because of the national economic downturn. “More and more people who call us have lost jobs,” she says. “Even those with some income can’t balance medical bills, appointments and living expenses with having to pay for an airline ticket.” 

Before these patients sign up for the Southwest program, they meet with a social worker to determine whether it’s financially feasible to return on a regular basis. Several Hopkins patient funds are already in place to provide assistance for extended periods, including the Arthur and Yvonne Koenig Fund, which has helped close to 200 patients.

Since its inception in May 2008, the Southwest program has come to the aid of 156 Hopkins patients and their families, from as far away as California, Florida, Washington and Texas. Reasons for appointments run the gamut: consultations for neurosurgery, cardiac surgery, pancreatic cancer, bone marrow or kidney transplants, or for the ataxia telangiectasia clinic, the only one in the country providing treatment for the rare, inherited disease that affects several body systems.

Californian John Frederickson, who received a kidney transplant at Hopkins a year ago, returned recently for a biopsy. “Southwest saved me about $400—much more, if I’d had a complication and needed to book a flight immediately,” he says. “And they were flexible about changing my flight when my doctor asked me to extend my stay. That was really helpful.”




Johns Hopkins Medicine

About Dome | Archive
© 2009 The Johns Hopkins University
and Johns Hopkins Health System