Trinity Homecare makes providing travel O2 work

Tuesday, May 31, 2005

DALLAS -- Believe it or not, Allan Jackson has built a nice cash niche delivering oxygen to patients who need it to navigate from one airport gate to another. It's the kind of job, that in a perfect world, most providers would like to say no to.
"All of this meet and greet in the airport is rife with opportunity for service failure because someone gets stuck in traffic or a flight gets delayed after the provider has sent a driver and they have to sit around waiting for the patient to get there," said Bob Fary, Inogen's vice president of sales and Apria's former national respiratory manager.
That's one reason why the HME industry has lobbied the Federal Aviation Administration to relax the rule that prevents oxygen users from flying with their own equipment. The FAA is expected to do that this spring. But for Jackson, who owns Trinity Home Medical, the current rules work just fine.
Key to his success: He and his head tech have cleared airport security. They've been fingerprinted and had their backgrounds' checked. That allows them to function almost like airport employees. When they have to deliver oxygen to an airport patient, they move effortlessly through security (they don't have to wait in line) and meet the patient at the gate. Occasionally, they'll even board a plane and switch the patient from the airlines' oxygen equipment to their own. They then use a wheelchair to transport the patient to the connecting gate.
"We've got it down to a science and work it between our deliveries," said Jackson. "I'm not making a million dollars off it, but I am making money. I hope it continues to grow. Cash and carry is the name of the game today."
It helps that Trinity is located only 10-15 minutes from Dallas Ft.Worth International Airport. If he had to travel 45 minutes or more, the niche might not be a money-maker. To accommodate an early arrival or gate change, Jackson leaves for the airport 45 minutes to a hour early. Prior to leaving, he also checks in with the airline via phone to make sure the plane is on time.
Occasionally, a patient who Jackson helped make a connection will move to Dallas. When that happens, Trinity sometimes picks up the concentrator business.
"That is worth something," Jackson said. "If you take care of the patient, everything else will take care of itself."