A new transportation service now rolling between health-care sites in Port Hardy, Port McNeill and Port Alice is improving access to health-care services for North Vancouver Island residents.
“Everyone deserves equal access to health care, and our government understands how important timely access to health services is,” 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, helping to improve access to health-care services in rural and remote areas on the island.”
The new service, established as part of the Province’s $30 million investment to stabilize and improve health-care services in North Vancouver Island (NVI), provides vital transportation, five days per week, to people accessing Port Hardy Hospital (PHH), Port McNeill Hospital (PMH) and Port Alice Health Centre (PAHC). The service includes a daytime route and an afternoon/evening route. It also provides daily return connector transportation to the North Island Hospital’s Campbell River and Comox Valley campuses.
“Our logistics staff, in collaboration with the NVI Task Force, have worked tirelessly to create this innovative service,” said James Hanson, Island Health Vice-President, Clinical Services, Acute Care North Island & Community Services. “We are delighted to welcome all of our new drivers to the Island Health team.”
Three wheelchair-enabled shuttle vans have been purchased to support the transportation service. All drivers hold class 4 licenses and are trained in safe transport of people with mobility issues, including wheelchair users and safe handling of 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 is also benefitting Port Alice residents by providing reliable access to non-urgent hospital-based outpatient services, including x-rays. As well, the local route will offer courier services such as transporting lab samples between Island Health sites and pharmacies in the area, and it provides staff better flexibility in travelling between sites.
“A local shuttle service will not only help our residents who need transportation assistance to access health services in the North Vancouver Island region, but it will also help to ensure paramedics remain available for emergency calls,” said Pat Corbett-Labatt, Port Hardy Mayor.
The connector service to the North Island Hospital campuses is currently providing two round trips daily to assist NVI residents who need to access health-care services at these locations or who require transportation back to their NVI home communities following a hospital stay.
“I think this service will be welcomed by many of my fellow North Vancouver Island residents,” said Bob Kadwell, one of the new inter-facility porters hired for the transportation service. “I enjoy driving and the scenery up here is so beautiful. I’m really looking forward to helping to safely shuttle patients and staff between sites.”
Recruitment efforts for North Vancouver Island since the Province’s January 27 announcement continues including the following hires:
- Six Registered Nurses/Registered Psychiatric Nurses
- One Clinical Nurse Educator
- Two Medical Lab Assistants
- Five Licensed Practical Nurses
- One community professional for home care and public health
- Ten support staff (includes ambassadors, nursing assistants and health care support workers)
- Four Protection Services Officers
- Nine Inter-facility Porters for dedicated shuttle service
- One Social Worker
- One Medical Imaging technologist
For more information on NVI health-care improvements, visit www.islandhealth.ca/nvi.