Va. flight medic raises more than $18K to help forgive medical debt

Flight Paramedic Rita Krenz said her work inspired her to help patients facing a "broken system"


By Laura French

WEYERS CAVE, Va. — A Virginia flight paramedic has raised more than $18,000 for a nonprofit charity that helps patients overcome medical debt. 

Flight Paramedic Rita Krenz, 47, said she began her career in EMS with an idealistic vision of her ability to help people, but was disheartened by the "broken system" that leaves the patients she saves with an additional burden, according to the Associated Press

Flight Paramedic Rita Krenz raised more than $18,000 for the nonprofit charity RIP Medical Debt to help patients with financial hardships.
Flight Paramedic Rita Krenz raised more than $18,000 for the nonprofit charity RIP Medical Debt to help patients with financial hardships. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

"I find myself struggling with the reality that our service sometimes creates and almost always contributes to this debt," Krenz wrote on her fundraiser page. "I think of our seriously injured trauma patients, who have such long roads to survival and recovery, only to then face what must seem like an insurmountable mountain of debt." 

Wanting to do more to help, Krenz reached out to RIP Medical Debt, a charity that buys and forgives medical debt for those with financial hardships. Krenz launched her fundraising page in September 2020 with the goal of raising $15,000; as of March 19, 2021, the page has received nearly $18,170 in donations, exceeding its goal by 21%. 

Krenz said she reached out to her family, friends and colleagues for donations, but has also received donations from complete strangers, including $2,500 from a couple she's never met and $1,000 from a church she has never been to. 

Krenz told the Associated Press that the unexpected donations were "uplifting and reaffirming that there are good people in the world."

The flight medic also donated money from her own pandemic stimulus checks. According to RIP Medical Debt, Krenz's fundraiser has helped forgive the debt of more than 900 patients. The nonprofit, started by two former debt collection executives in 2014, has forgiven a total of more than $3 billion in medical debt to date.

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