Spotlight Interview: Leasa Bolen, CEO & Nicholas Beeler, COO of HALO Medical Travel Services

About Leasa Bolen: 

Leasa is a mother of 3.  Alexandria is 28 and is the reason behind what she does. Nicholas is 27 and is her right-hand man in the HALO non-profit organization. Tyler is 19 and is starting to find his way in the world after just graduating from high school this past spring.  Her husband, Shad, is her rock and stands behind her 1000%.  Shad has been there for Leasa every step of the way and encourages her to continue to pursue her dream even when life gets really hard. 

Leasa works at Summit Materials as a Business Systems Analyst for her day job and spends her early mornings, lunches and after work building HALO.  Leasa has a passion for giving and helping others and has created a motto that she lives by. “If you don’t have money, give time.  If you don’t have time, give money and if you don’t have money or time, give inspiration!” 

About Nicholas Beeler 

Nicholas is the son of HALO’s founder, Leasa Bolen.  Nicholas was a high school athlete and excelled in wrestling and football earning letters in both and was awarded the best defensive player his senior year as well as the All City award for his position as a nose tackle.  After High School, Nicholas enrolled at Eastern Washington University where he was taking his requirements when the acting bug caught him.  Nicholas was recommended to the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Las Angeles and packed up to move to LA.  Nicholas graduated from the Academy and decided that the Hollywood life was not for him.  He moved home to Spokane and finished his Mechanical Engineering degree at Eastern where he met his future wife, Melissa.  Nicholas and Melissa married Sept 1st this year.  Nicholas works at MoCo Engineering and Fabrication in the Spokane Valley and is looking forward to his honeymoon to Greece this coming June. 

About HALO Medical Services 

Many patients that need to travel for medical purposes often do not have the financial means or the ability to make these travel arrangements.  There is a great deal of stress that comes along with these situations and this can cause even more stress to the patient.  HALO aims to lessen the burden on our families so that they can focus on the health of their loved ones.  HALO will provide these services for any patient that needs to travel into the Spokane/Coeur d’Alene area or that needs to travel outside the region, perhaps to Seattle, California or other locations in the United States.  We will help with gas and transportation for those in rural areas as well as parking passes and meal vouchers while you are traveling. 


Medical Travel Today (MTT): Give us some background on HALO. 
Leasa Bolen (LB): HALO partners with resources throughout our community for clients who need assistance reaching a destination for medical purposes. We identify what organizations can help them and reach out on behalf of our clients.  

We work with Miracle Flight, Angel Flight, Ronald McDonald’s House and other partners to coordinate all aspects of medical travel. We have started advocating on behalf of some clients, but our official company launch is January 2020.  

Nicholas Beeler (NB): Yes, we are able to leverage our relationships to get the best resources possible for our clients who need help arranging their medical travel.  

We’ve developed great relationships with some of the other nonprofits in our region, as well. We are continuously cultivating these relationships to help our clients and work with others in our community.  
MTT: Can you give the readers an example of how HALO has served a client? 
LB: One of our best cases was working with a teen that had to travel from Spokane, Washington to Provo, Utah.  
Our client was 16 years old at the time and he was traveling for treatment for cognitive impairment. His doctor felt that a particular hospital in Provo was the best place for him to regain some cognitive ability, but it wasn’t covered by his insurance.  

This meant his family had to pay for the facility, which was out of network, airfare for getting there and back, and other expenses that come with traveling — like transportation, food and accommodations.  

At HALO we were able to advocate for him and his family and connect them with vital resources. We coordinated with Angel Flight which provided airfare and transportation to the hotel at no cost to the family. The hotel had medical rates through a partnership with the healthcare facility and we were also able to negotiate with them directly to save them almost half the cost.   

Additionally, the hotel provided breakfast every day and three dinners, which helped save money on meals while traveling.  

Through our network, we were also able to secure a donation specifically for this client which covered their hotel expenses. That meant they had almost no out-of-pocket expenses besides the facility treatment and a few meals.  

Beyond that, we helped promote fundraisers to cover the costs of treatment.  

MTT: Where do most of your patients come from? 
LB: We are mostly serving people coming in or out of the Inland Northwest region. Our main destinations are Spokane, Washington, Coeur D’Alene, Idaho and all the outlying areas.  

Spokane offers some world-class medical facilities so there’s an influx of patients coming into Spokane prior to going out to the teaching hospitals or clinics. This serves as a common starting point for patients before they get moved on to those facilities.  

This gives us the opportunity to help a lot of people coming in or out of the area with important resources while they get the treatment they need.  
NB: To expand on that, our business model does support national service. We are using Washington as a starting point and are working towards extending the scope of our services after we officially launch in 2020. 
MTT: How do you determine if someone needs assistance? 
LB: We followed the Angel Flight business model. This allows us to help any patient that comes to us for help. We use our expertise and leverage our network to coordinate the client with the specific resources that will help them.  

Years ago, when my daughter first got sick, I had a good job. However, I was a single mom and still couldn’t afford to go to California when doctors recommended we go to UCLA for her treatment. We didn’t qualify for resources because of my salary, so it’s important for us to help anybody. We recognize that medical bills can have a huge impact on anyone’s financial situation so if someone asks us for help, we will help them.  
MTT: How do your services help people without insurance? 
NB: Medical travel is one of the things that insurance doesn’t typically cover.  

When you need to travel for treatment, there are a lot of extra costs on top of what you’re paying for medical expenses. Transportation, gas if you’re driving, accommodations and meals add up when traveling. 

There’s also the logistics to plan which can be very stressful. People who are traveling for the purposes of treatment may also have to do this several times a year. We warn people that this is to be expected with medical travel and leverage our resources for connections and financial support.  
MTT: What long-term goals does HALO have? 
LB: One of our long-term goals is generating reform for insurance regarding medical travel.  

We need to move forward with medical travel being covered by insurance. It’s so important for people who need specialized treatment to get the help they need without having a huge financial drain because treatments are out of network.  

Besides the medical bills themselves, lodging, food and transportation expenses need to be covered somehow to truly make it possible for everyone to receive the care they need.  

MTT: What is unique about traveling for medical treatment compared to staying local? 
LB: I have a good example of this because I personally have to travel for my daughter’s medical needs. Recently, my daughter and I traveled to the University of Washingtonwhich we go to two to four times every year. My daughter is on Medicare so she cannot afford it but fortunately, I can help her.  

Because we have to go so often, we try to make the trips fun but this time there was a complication in her treatment. She had to be hospitalized and we had to stay an extra four days in Seattle. All of these unexpected expenses for the hotel, food, and medical bills had to be paid out of pocket. That’s something that could come up during medical travel that can have a huge impact on your finances.  

MTT: What is your goal for HALO?   

LB: My goal is to expand nationally so we can broaden our scope of people we can help. There’s so much opportunity for us to use our resources. The work that we do is personal to me and I’ve learned a lot from my experiences with medical travel. I want to share that knowledge and make someone else’s journey easier.   

MTT: Can you tell us more about your leadership? 
LB: Nick is my son and the Vice President of HALO. He runs the daily operations of the company. We currently have no paid employees, so everyone is working very hard. Many of us have full-time jobs on top of our work with HALO.  
Our Board of Directors has thirteen members who are contributing their time, skills, and expertise.  
NB: We are very proud of our hard work. It’s been very exciting to use the skills we’ve learned as a family traveling for medical treatment and leveraging that to create a company to help others. Our team has been working very hard to work with our partners and advocating for our clients.  
MTT: Before starting HALO, did you have a background in healthcare? What inspired you to start HALO? 
LB: My background in health care comes from my experience with my daughter’s health. I learned so much through advocating for her and figuring things out along the way. I felt like with all the information I’ve gathered from my experience, I could help other families who are experiencing the same thing.  

I mentor people through the process of planning and seeking treatment. It can be very stressful to coordinate treatment this way, so we aim to be a source of encouragement, provide resources, and walk clients through this process.  

We want them to focus on the health of themselves or their loved ones. We can handle the logistics and leverage our resources and connections to take as much of the burden off the family as possible.  

We’ve been navigating this system for many years, from negotiating with insurance to cover out of network treatment, finding the best place for care, getting resources, and asking doctors to advocate for you. 

Whatever a client may need we want to connect them to resources, teach them how to go through the process and be their support system. 

We are currently raising funds for our capital and program campaigns. Donations are greatly appreciated and can be accepted online through our ‘giving’ page or mailed to PO Box 784, Greenacres WA 99016. 

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