Demand for health shuttle grows

MICHAEL SCHWER
Last updated 05:00 14/01/2014
Southland Times photo
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ

St John representative Paul Colvin, left, and Four Square owner Graeme Neilson at the dedication ceremony for the Invercargill health shuttle.

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The Invercargill to Dunedin health shuttle has nearly tripled its number of passengers.

The free St John shuttle service began transporting patients for essential medical and health-related appointments at Dunedin Hospital last August.

St John South Island community care manager Pam Hall, of Dunedin, said they started with 26 passengers and had increased to 63 in November. More than 175 people had used the service during the four month period.

"It has been good and quite busy. It's really neat that it has grown so well, and we have had lots of support from Dunedin Hospital."

There was only a four hour window for appointments in Dunedin, between 11am to 3pm, and the hospital adjusted to get people in, she said.

The 11-seater van was purchased last May and modified to make it more accessible for passengers.

The shuttle travels the 414km round trip once each week day, and has journeyed more than 32,000 kilometres. This is about the equivalent of driving round trip between Invercargill and New York.

More than 20 volunteers had been trained to help provide the service.

"The volunteers are really enjoying it, everyone enjoys the trip," Mrs Hall said.

The shuttle would continue throughout the year as there was a real need within the community for it, she said.

The service is mainly used by older people who live alone and no longer drive, and those who were too unwell to drive or access other transport.

Patients were able to bring a support person with them as well. Bookings were essential and could be made at a local St John office.

 

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