Getting to healthcare services on the North Island has been a struggle for many residents for a long time.
A new transportation service now rolling between hospitals in Port Hardy (PHH), Port McNeill (PMH), and Port Alice (PAHC) is helping get people to their appointments.
“Everyone deserves equal access to health care,” said Michele Babchuk, MLA for North Island. “By investing in this service, we’re providing vital transportation for people to access the health care they need”
The new service will give rides five days weekly in the morning and afternoon/evening.
It will also transport people to the North Island Hospital’s Campbell River and Comox Valley campuses.
Three wheelchair-enabled shuttle vans have been purchased to support the transportation service.
All drivers hold class 4 licenses and are trained in safely transporting people with mobility issues, including wheelchair users, and safely handling dangerous goods.
“The intention for the dedicated transportation service is to support those we serve and their loved ones who must travel outside of their home community for health-care services,” said Kaylee Gray, Island Health Logistics and Supply Chain Manager.
“For example, if someone who lives in Port Hardy receives care at Port McNeill Hospital and is discharged from that site, staff at Port McNeill Hospital will make arrangements for those individuals to be transported free of charge back to Port Hardy Hospital and vice versa.”
The local service benefits Port Alice residents by providing reliable access to non-urgent hospital-based outpatient services, including X-rays.
The local route will also offer courier services such as transporting lab samples between Island Health sites and pharmacies in the area, providing staff better flexibility in travelling between locations.
“It will also help to ensure paramedics remain available for emergency calls,” said Pat Corbett-Labatt, Port Hardy Mayor. This is welcome news for towns, some of which only have access to one ambulance.