Volunteer pilots deliver COVID-19 tests to get faster results

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MACON, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT)– Angel Flight Soars volunteer pilots took off on Monday to help with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pilots are helping deliver COVID-19 tests from Medical Center, Navicent Health to laboratories in Charlotte, North Carolina, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Micheal Hajworonsky, the Vice President of Clinical Support Services for Navicent Health, says the new partnership will help more than just hospital staff.

Hajworonsky said, “Our patients are what it’s all about. We’re in this together, and this is a way to really get those results quicker and let patients know.”

Traveling by plane allows COVID-19 tests to reach labs in two hours, rather than the five or six hours it takes if traveling by vehicle.

Angel Flight Soars typically transports patients and helps with organ transit as well. However, in times of disaster, pilots use their planes to move critical supplies and personnel equipment.

Since the start of the pandemic, Angel Flight has been working with FEMA, GEMA and the Red Cross to support COVID-19 relief efforts. John Alston, chairman and volunteer pilot for Angel Flight, says he’s honored to be a part of the pandemic relief effort.

Alston stated, “Being able to move medical specimens and being able to reduce the time that they receive results by 50% is very important. Of course, Angel flight has been doing this for 37 years. And where we typically move patients, in times of need like this — a different need can be filled.”

Each delivery is a nasal pathogen test. The kits have all been individually sealed and placed inside a triple-sealed medical cooler — to protect the pilots and the labs receiving the tests.

Angel Flights and Navicent Health both believe this new partnership could speed up the testing process. It also allows more tests to be performed at a faster pace.

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Peyton Lewis is a 20-year-old reporter from Stockbridge, Georgia. She graduated in December of 2019 with her Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the University of Georgia. She found a love for reporting after receiving a video camera for her 8th birthday. She and her friends would make mock newscasts in her backyard other creative content. Peyton's love for writing and creating videos pushed her to pursue journalism. In order to kick-start her dream of being a reporter, she left the traditional high school experience at the age of 16 to attend Gordon State College as a full-time student. She graduated with her Associate's degree two weeks before graduating from high school. Previously, Peyton worked as a news intern for 11 Alive in Atlanta, a radio intern for the Joy FM, and a reporter/ technical manager for Grady Newsource. Peyton dreams to become an investigative reporter that leaves a lasting impact on the world around her. She loves Disney, dogs, spicy food, musicals, and her family. Peyton also enjoys reading, watching movies, cheering on the Dawgs, and going on new adventures.