With an eye to the problematic transport issues between the southern part of the shire and the South East Regional Hospital (SERH), the transport sub-committee of the Pambula Health Service Community Engagement Committee (PHSCEC) has several proposals that could help solve the problem.
Although buses stop at the hospital five days a week and twice on Saturday, trying to match the timetables and discharge times can see patients stranded at SERH after treatment.
The transport problems were highlighted when a 92-year-old Merimbula man was discharged on a Sunday evening after being taken by ambulance to SERH earlier. The man’s wife doesn’t drive and with no relatives nearby, he was left paying over $100 for a taxi home.
Sub-committee member, Colin Dunn is also president elect of Pambula Rotary and is proposing that Rotary runs an on-call trial with volunteer drivers who could take patients home from SERH.
PHSCEC committee member and long-term campaigner for Pambula Hospital, Sharon Tapscott said that the committee had received an expression of interest from Rotary to run such a service with a possible start date of November.
“We want to make people more comfortable and confident about using the hospital because they have transport options,” Mrs Tapscott said.
The committee also wants a green ambulance stationed in the area which could provide non-urgent patient transport, typically for a patient who may need to taken to another medical location.
“It fits between an ambulance and patient transport vehicles and frees up the ambulances and paramedics to do urgent work. I have spoken to member for Bega, Andrew Constance, and he agrees that we need one,” Mrs Tapscott said.
But there is another option that the committee wants to see explored. Called ConnectU and using donated cars and volunteer drivers it provides a tailored community transport service for anyone who has difficulty getting to medical appointments, shopping and attending community activities.
“It’s about the option to co-ordinate the transport that is not in use, and the will of the state to allow unused vehicles to be used. It’s not just a matter of getting to the hospital but doing anything, if you have mobility issues,” Mr Dunn said.
“We need to look at all the options that could suit this community.”
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