It used to be that an infirm or elderly traveler would get wheelchair assistance from one of the sky cabbies at the airport, but for the rest of the journey they were on their own.
These days, the home nursing industry has adapted to this set of special-needs travelers, supplying everything from full-time assistance to making hotel reservations.
There are any number of reasons for this, such as technological advances in medical equipment making transport on airplanes easier; aging yet well-heeled populations with more money to travel; and home care and nursing agencies that can adapt to individual traveler needs. In some cases, the health care worker takes the initiative.
Take Andrew Fallon for instance. The August 7 edition of the Wall Street Journal reports that this licensed practical nurse co-founded his own company, TripNurse, whose nurse-employees not only accompany sickly travelers on air flights but tend to the patient throughout the vacation.
One of Fallon’s recent trips perfectly illustrates what a critical service these new breed of vacationing nurses provide. A power outage during a San Francisco trip meant that his patient, Rigomar Thurmer, could not use his electricity-driven oxygen system. Fallon got Thurmer and his wife new accommodations and had an oxygen tank delivered to the hotel.
One downside to traveling nurse services is the price: TripNurse charges between $300 and $1,000 per day for its services, the Journal reports. Then again, the expense is worth it for those who do not wish to let chronic ailments prevent them from enjoying a higher quality of life.
For those who cannot afford the more expensive services, there are agencies, such as the free online service from the US Administration on Aging, that can find the least expensive nurse in a given zip code at no cost. The Clemmers, from the Washington, DC area, found a service that only charged $15 an hour.
Another downside is the awkwardness the arrangement can cause in traveling situations, especially during meals. While many nurses bring their own food, Mrs. Clemmers admits that seeing them eat alone made her feel sympathy. “It does feel that you are not inviting someone to the party,” said Mrs. Clemmer.