How the airline industry is coming together to support healthcare workers and how you can help too

May 11, 2020

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If you’d like to help go to the GoFundMe page here.

The airline industry has come together once again to support our hardworking healthcare workers, with the latest being Project Wingman’s newly opened “First Class Lounges” for healthcare workers at Flushing and Jamaica Hospital in New York City.

As the name suggests, there’s an aviation tie to this initiative with the volunteers being grounded/furloughed airline employees from American Airlines, Delta, Endeavor Air, JetBlue, Norwegian Air, Spirit and United. 

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This initiative was first launched in the UK and has grown tremendously since its inception with over 4,000 volunteers at 30 hospitals across the UK currently. After witnessing the success of the project in the UK, Norwegian Air Director of Communications and Project Wingman USA Chairman Anders Lindström, was inspired to bring it across the pond.

“I was so impressed with what easyJet Captain Emma Henderson and BA Captain Dave Fielding launched about a month ago at a hospital in North London. I reached out to Emma to see how I could bring there concept to the U.S. and started getting my colleagues and partners involved. I then tried to find a suitable hospital to launch Project Wingman USA at and we got great responses from Flushing and Jamaica Hospitals, which are part of the Medisys Group.” said Lindström.

In these lounges, healthcare workers will be treated to complimentary food, drinks and gifts. But most importantly, these lounges will serve as a safe area to relax and rejuvenate.

Airline employees can find volunteer opportunities on Project Wingman’s website. The public can also help out by donating to the organizations GoFundMe page. All donations will go towards the purchase of snacks, beverage, transportation costs and other miscellaneous necessities.

Besides being in the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s fitting that Flushing and Jamaica Hospital are the ones with the lounges given the, “two hospitals located close to two of the busiest airports in the country [JFK and LaGuardia] and so close to where many airline employees live,” said Lindström, who is the U.S. Director of Communications, for Norwegian Air.

Related: How to donate to Project Wingman

Project Wingman has also partnered with the Front Line Appreciation Group (FLAG) of NYC in an effort to support local restaurants and businesses during these tough times.

When asked if Project Wingman plans to expand in the U.S., Lindström said, “That’s the goal. We want to establish these two lounges first and make sure we have enough volunteers and donations for them to run smoothly, and then expand.”

Safety is the number one priority for airline crew when they’re in the air, and it’s of equal importance when they’re on the ground volunteering for Project Wingman. The first-class lounges are set up in secluded, non-patient facing areas within hospitals. Doctors and nurses who come to the lounges are fully de-gowned and all potentially contaminated protection is removed to safeguard the health and well-being of the volunteers who are supporting them. Additionally, all volunteers are outfitted with PPE such as face masks and gloves as well.

Featured photo courtesy of Anders Lindström/Project Wingaman.

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