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Funding boost for CHB/HB Hospital transport

Funding boost for CHB/HB Hospital transport service

Hawke’s Bay District Health Board members have voted unanimously to take over funding a free transport service between Central Hawke’s Bay and Hawke’s Bay Hospital. The service, already in existence, has been run on a voluntary basis by the Central Hawke’s Bay branch of Red Cross for many years.

Funding was previously received from Transfusion Health Trust. The Trust will continue to administer the service thanks to a $1000 a month boost from Hawke’s Bay District Health Board.

President of the CHB Branch of Red Cross, Penny Mason, said she was delighted to hear the funding would continue. “We have a team of around 20 volunteer drivers, who use their own cars to ferry people to and from Hawke’s Bay Hospital and from outlying areas to CHB health facilities. She said many people using the free service were older people who had outpatient appointments at Hawke’s Bay Hospital. “We also have mums with young children who use the service, and a number of regulars who have to travel to and from Hastings. “On occasion the Red Cross volunteers leave CHB as early as 6:30am to get people to hospital in time for surgery.”

She said the service was established when the old Waipukurau Hospital was in existence, and volunteers used to drive hospital board cars. Now volunteers use their own vehicles and while they receive some reimbursement, it doesn’t cover all the costs associated with providing the service. “We are indebted to the team of volunteers who give so generously of their time and vehicles,” she said.

Mrs Mason said Red Cross drivers were sometimes called on to collect people who were being discharged from hospital. “We have also taken some people to hospital after-hours - people with no local family support, who aren’t sick enough for an ambulance or aren’t well enough to drive.

“We are very fortunate to have such a dedicated team of volunteer drivers, as without them, there would be no service. They provide assistance to so many people who really have no other way of getting to health services they need,” Penny Mason said.

She said on average, around 25 people used the service each month.

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