Navicent Vice President of Clinical Support Michael Hajworonsky stands in front of an Angel Flight Soars airplane. The charity's flight service has cut the hospital's coronavirus testing transport time in half.
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Navicent Vice President of Clinical Support Michael Hajworonsky stands in front of an Angel Flight Soars airplane. The charity's flight service has cut the hospital's coronavirus testing transport time in half.

Central Georgia hospital network Navicent Health searched for a way to cut back on processing time for COVID-19 testing kits. The solution? Private airplanes.

Vice President of Clincal Support Services Michael Hajworonsky said that for weeks now the hospital has been transporting COVID-19 tests by vehicle as far away as Nashville or Charlotte to be processed, a journey that can take four to six hours. Once the tests were received, it still took time to analyze them. 

"You add the the turnaround time in these tests and it was very difficult," he said.

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Angel Flight Soars, a charity organization that typically transports medical patients by private plane who need urgent medical treatment, thought they might be able to help.

The charity was using its planes to assist Tift Regional Medical Center in Tifton in testing, and the charity realized it had a chance to expand its contribution.

Using planes and pilots provided by the charity, Navicent has now been able to cut down the transport time of the testing process.

"They've cut our turnaround time in half now," he said. "And that's just been amazing."

New tests are leaving on flights now once every weekday, and twice on the weekends. The weekend availability of the pilots is especially significant, as Navicent didn't have any ground transportation previously available for those days.

"Not only do we fly to Charlotte, but we also fly to Nashville on the weekends," he said. "Incredible stuff."

Navicent operates 50 facilities through central and west Georgia and offers support to regional hospitals that use it's reference lab. It also supports community clinics in the area.

Hajworonsky said that all of their locations are currently testing for COVID-19 and will be serviced by the chartered flights.

"We're in the midst of dealing with our patients in the care that we're delivering," he said. "We just continue to do everything we can to meet the needs of our community."