Carolinas HealthCare System responds:
CEO Michael Tarwater declined to be interviewed for this story. But the system provided written answers, along with this statement:
As the only hospital-based, accredited fixed-wing air ambulance service based in the Carolinas, MedCenter Air’s elite team serves a vital role in transporting critically ill and injured patients and operates 24 hours per day, seven days per week and 365 days per year. Not only do patients of Carolinas HealthCare System benefit from this service, but so do the patients of more than 50 other organizations who contract with MedCenter Air for air ambulance charter services.
All personal use of MedCenter Air fixed-wing aircraft follows IRS guidelines and Carolinas HealthCare System policies. Of the 4,064 flights by MedCenter Air’s fixed-wing aircraft between 2008 and 2012, the vast majority involved the transport of critically injured or sick patients. Only 29 of these flights, or less than 1 percent, involved personal travel by Carolinas HealthCare System’s CEO.
Furthermore, Carolinas HealthCare System does not respond to the hearsay comments provided to us by The Observer from certain unnamed sources. We question The Observer’s use of any sources without fully investigating possible motives behind their participation in a story.