Flying doctors

January 16, 2018

IN A perfect world everyone would have means for transport to and from medical appointments.

Unfortunately, in local regions this is not always the case.

However, The Royal Flying Doctor Service in partnership with Heathcote Health is doing everything it can to make it possible.

A proposed community transport service to take people based within the Heathcote Health catchment area to their medical appointments is in its early planning stages.

The program would first be monitored through a 12-month trial before it would be evaluated, after which a decision would be made whether it was appropriate.

RFDS senior project officer Mathew Tyler said while the planning had begun, the idea was still in its early stages as further research was needed to confirm the program’s viability.

“We met with representatives from the State Government and we were encouraged to submit an application for assistance,” Mr Tyler said.

“We believe it really is something that is needed in the area.”

It is proposed that residents would call the hospital reception in the days leading up to their appointment to organise transport.

Mr Tyler is under no illusion this sort of program would require a great deal of buy-in from the community, with the service set to be free of charge and run by volunteers from the RFDS, Heathcote Health and local surrounding areas.

“A challenge for us is getting enough volunteers to run the service, and we are mindful that it might not be as simple as it seems,” he said.

Tyler said the idea for the program stemmed from the RFDS and their strong collaboration with Heathcote Health.

“We have always been really focused on working with the community and this idea came up through our partnership with Heathcote Health,” he said. “We held some discussions and identified this as something that would help community members access health care.”

Finer details for the project such as the hours of operation, the eligibility criteria and the number of available vehicles are still being discussed.

A starting date for the project will become clearer as the plan progresses through its early stages.

“We have been toying with some dates as to when we will have it sorted, but it will be more realistic when everything gets pulled together,” Mr Tyler said.

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