The first time I heard the term medevac (medical evacuation) we were having brunch with one of JR’s friends (R) who was, at the time, stationed in the newest country in the world, South Sudan. JR was still in the hiring process, and I was playing 20 million questions with her about the job, the lifestyle, and everything in between. R had some personal experience with medevac and was explaining some of the details to us. Essentially, if the medical officer at post determines that your illness/injury/whatever requires a level of care that is not accessible locally, you will be medically evacuated to your post’s designated medevac site. For many countries in this region, that’s London.
In my head I was picturing helicopters, flashing lights, emergency personnel and a rush to get the patient out of the country as quickly as possible. While I’m sure in some unfortunate instances it may happen like that, a medevac can also be an event that is planned for months in advance, such as when a woman returns to the US to have a baby.
It’s the general recommendation that FSOs and their EFMs give birth in the U.S. I believe if I were adamant about remaining here they would not force me to leave. However, JR and I are both comfortable following the recommendations of State and the doctors here, and they advise that I return to the U.S. by 34 weeks. So from the time we confirmed my pregnancy and due date, I had an expected departure date. I can choose to leave post earlier, and if I have any medical complications or there are concerns, post can decide to send me earlier.
I have the option of returning to anywhere in the U.S. to deliver. I will be there for about six weeks before the baby is born, and will remain there until the baby is six weeks old, at which point the baby will obtain his/her own medical clearance and passport, be offically added to JR’s travel orders, and we will return to Kosovo (if that sounds simple, let me assure you – it won’t be. The to-do list looks very complicated and we’ve heard it can be very time consuming and difficult to get this all processed within six weeks.) There was really no question that I would be going to Ohio. Now, if I were the FSO, I might opt to deliver in DC, because then I’d have the possibility of working up until the baby’s birth.
While you are on medevac, you are entitled to a per diem allowance for housing and food and miscellaneous expenses. Depending on the anticipated length of your medevac, you can choose to stay in a hotel or a short term rental, but the rate must meet the per diem amount or you will be responsible for the difference. If you have the option of staying with family and wish to do so, then you do not receive any housing allowance, but you do receive the food/miscellaneous portion of the per diem. Luckily for us, my grandparents have a basement apartment that is just waiting for me to move in (I’ve already started to refer to them as my roomies). You can look up any city’s per diem rates here: http://www.gsa.gov/portal/content/104877?utm_source=OGP&utm_medium=print-radio&utm_term=perdiem&utm_campaign=shortcuts
Additionally, my flight home and return flight are covered by the medevac, although techinically when I fly back with the baby, the baby will fly on JR’s travel orders, not on my medevac orders. The baby will have his or her own plane ticket, which is nice so that I can bring an infant seat on the plane, but seems like it would be much more useful if they wanted to pay for my mom to have a plane ticket to fly back with me. 🙂 But before we can do that, we’ll go through the 30 step process of getting the baby cleared and permitted to travel. JR’s travel to join me for the baby’s birth is not paid for, so we will probably use his R&R ticket to cover that expense. We are still working out the details of his leave -how much time can he take, when should he fly back, and things like that.
Phew. That is a LOT of information and probably more than anyone actually cares to know about this process.