New Wakatipu health shuttle ready to roll

SUE FEA IN QUEENSTOWN
Last updated 12:53 30/10/2012
Health shuttle
SUE FEA/Fairfax NZ

HEALTH RUN: St John area chaplain the Rev Reg Weeks, left, Four Square South Island group manager Alan Smith, St John community programmes manager Chrissie Cope and senior member of the Order of St John Ian Rae celebrate Wakatipu's new health shuttle.

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Wakatipu's new health shuttle was officially blessed yesterday and will begin transporting people to health appointments in Invercargill next month.

St John Ambulance community programmes manager Chrissie Cope said the service, which will take people to any health-related appointments in Invercargill, already had about 20 trained volunteers of varying ages ready to assist.

"It won't take the place of ambulance transfers. It's for people who may struggle to get down to appointments because of age, they can't drive, poor health, or it may be financially difficult or whatever. It's just another option."

Not everyone who went to health appointments felt like a long drive and for others it may be a stressful or worrying time.

Two volunteers would travel so there was a backup driver for safety. The service will run daily from Monday to Friday, leaving the St John Ambulance station at Frankton at 8am, travelling out to Arrowtown to collect people en route. The return journey would leave Invercargill at 3pm.

Volunteers would be rostered on once a fortnight and the Southern District Health Board would work in with the time frames to ensure passengers' appointments were at appropriate times.

However, Ms Cope said the service was not just for hospital-related appointments. People may need to travel south to see a podiatrist or some other health-related professional.

The new Ford Transit van, which can carry nine passengers, was officially blessed yesterday before about 30 guests by St John Wanaka area chaplain the Rev Reg Weeks.

The project has been funded by Four Square, and its South Island group manager, Alan Smith, was on hand for the occasion.

Four Square has sponsored three other health shuttles in the South Island in Amberley, Ashburton and Cromwell.

The company was keen to help set up more shuttles in other outlying areas.

For more information about bookings, contact St John Ambulance Queenstown, phone (03) 441 4555.

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- The Southland Times

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