health care travel
NORTHERN HEALTH CONNECTIONS: CELEBRATING TEN YEARS OF SERVICE A HEALTH CARE TRANSPORTATION SOLUTION IN THE NORTH Haylee Seiter, Health Promotions, and Maureen Haley, Patient Transportation, Northern Health
Imagine living in your beautiful rural community in northern B.C. and receiving medical news that you must travel to a bigger centre for treatment or require access to health care services not available in your community. Geographically, the nearest community with accessible health care services is hours away and your urgent search for airfare reveals a price tag upwards of $600 per person round trip. The high cost of the trip brings added stress and, on the other hand, just thinking
about driving such a long distance makes you worried and anxious. For years, this scenario was familiar to residents seeking health care outside of their communities in northern B.C. That is, until a health care transportation solution in the north was born. Recognizing a need During Northern Healthâ€™s community consultation in 2004, participants overwhelmingly expressed that safe, affordable access to health care via transportation was one of the greatest barriers to health care in the north. From this feedback, Northern Health Connections travel service was created in partnership with Diversified Transportation Ltd. The program began in late 2006 with the objective of keeping people in their home communities while still having accessible health care. The first phase of the program included only long distance service with four routes that started from communities such as Fort Nelson and Prince Rupert. The short distance, same-day services started later in 2007. By creating a scheduled transportation service throughout the north that linked communities to services, the goal was to improve health outcomes for northerners. Ten years of service In 2017, Northern Health Connections is celebrating ten years of continued scheduled health care transportation service in the north.