Eastern Long Island Hospital’s own Scott Press, MD is a highly regarded urological surgeon. He is on staff at both Peconic Bay Medical Center in Riverhead and St. Charles Hospital in Port Jefferson in addition to ELIH, and he teaches surgical techniques to other surgeons at the North Shore LIJ Bioskills Center in New Hyde Park. What does such an in-demand medical professional do when he has some down time? He voluntarily flies patients to and from medical treatment at no cost to the patient or patient’s families through Patient Airlift Services (PALS).
Dr. Press has dreamed of flying planes since he was a child. “I had every flight simulator you could imagine,” he said. “But it was never a good time [to get my license].”
He eventually found the time, and Dr. Press earned his pilot’s license about four and a half years ago. After 500 hours of required flying time and receiving his instrument rating, he became a volunteer pilot for PALS.
PALS is a nonprofit that arranges free air transportation for individuals requiring medical diagnosis, treatment, or follow-up who cannot afford or are unable to fly commercially. PALS also arranges volunteer flights for family members of patients as compassionate missions, to ensure patients have support when they are away from home for long periods. They are also proud to assist military personnel and their families during recovery and rehabilitation processes for wounded veterans, and they have a history of supporting humanitarian efforts in the event of natural or man-made disasters.
“I’ve always wanted to do PALS,” Dr. Press said. “I like flying anyway, but to have a purpose like this to do it is just great.”
He has flown seven times since he started volunteering with PALS about a year and a half ago. Of the patients he’s transported, Dr. Press says he’s most touched by the pediatric patients he’s encountered. “I understand what they’re going through from a medical standpoint. [As a parent] you feel for these parents, you know how it affects the whole family.”
Last year, Dr. Press transported a young patient with a neuroblastoma that particularly stands out in his mind. “The [patients] I keep in touch with the most are the kids, they or their parents usually friend me on Facebook.” He follows up with them. Of that patient with the neuroblastoma, he said “She’s off to kindergarten now, and she has all of her hair back… it’s nice to see.”
“We went into medicine because we want to help people.” Volunteering with PALS allows Dr. Press to do “all the things we can’t do in medicine” for the patients.
For more information on Dr. Press and the PALS organization, visit www.ELIH.org and www.palservices.org .