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Nurses to aid ailing airline passengers


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One-on-one care

$90 an hour

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(CNN) -- Nurses' rounds are about to be extended from the hospital to the sky.

When American Airlines launches Skycaare next month, ailing fliers will be able to bring a nurse along with them for a discounted fare.

"We're looking for people who are very stable for air travel that really just need a medical helping hand," said Dr. David McKenas, medical director for American Airlines.

Skycaare will provide a registered nurse for passengers who want or need one. Before the flight, the nurse will consult with the passenger's physician to learn about medical needs and make sure the patient can handle flying.

During the flight, the two sit together, with the nurse keeping tabs on the passenger's condition.

One-on-one care

Physician Larry Tune, who works with Alzheimer's patients, said this program could be just what the doctor ordered.

"The needs of someone who is demented really require one-on-one attention, especially in travel, because that is a unique experience for them," Tune said.

It can also be a challenging one for someone with a mental or physical illness.

Janet Cellars recently had to fly her father home soon after he underwent heart surgery.

"To have somebody who is available, who is knowledgeable about the medical status of the person and they know just what is involved in travel, I think would be very helpful to families," Cellars said.

$90 an hour

Most major airlines already have medical equipment on board, including first aid kits and portable defibrillators. But American Airlines is the first to take this additional step, starting in February for flights to or from Dallas and Chicago.

Passengers requesting a nurse would have to pay for the nurse's ticket at a 30 percent discount, plus a $90 hourly fee.

But that added expense could buy more freedom for people who are sick, and more peace of mind for family members.

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