British Columbians needing to travel for specialized health care will benefit thanks to $1.5 million in funding for Hope Air, announced Shirley Bond, MLA for Prince George-Valemount and Mike Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie, on behalf of Health Minister Terry Lake.
Hope Air, a registered national charity, arranges free flights to those who can’t afford the cost of an airline ticket to get to medical expertise or specialized medical technologies outside their home communities.
“We recognize that sometimes British Columbians must travel for the care they need,” said Lake. “This funding ensures that patients of all ages have access to the specialized services they need to get well, no matter where in the province they live.”
“When someone in your family is ill it is hard enough to find the strength to cope with the day to day challenges that emerge. Worrying about travel arrangements can be an unnecessary added stress factor,” said Bond. “This funding provided for Hope Air will help reduce barriers and ensure families can concentrate on what matters most, the health of their loved one.”
Patients of all ages can use the service for medical appointments they can’t get locally, such as those offered at BC Children’s Hospital, BC Women's Hospital & Health Centre or the BC Cancer Agency.
“When a family member is sick and needs specialized medical attention, it shouldn’t matter where they live,” said Morris. “The funding being invested will help put their minds at ease so they can focus on what matters, which is caring for their loved ones.”
Those needing travel assistance can contact Hope Air online at www.hopeair.ca or by calling 1 877 346-HOPE. To access its services, a patient must demonstrate financial need, be a B.C. resident and have Medical Services Plan coverage.
“Since 2011 when my son James was diagnosed with leukemia, we have needed to make the journey to BC Children’s Hospital many times for his specialized treatment. The long trip from Prince George and the costs for such would have been overwhelming for us. We are very thankful that Hope Air is available to us. We wouldn’t have been able to make it without them,” said Stefanie Watson.
“BC Children’s Hospital is pleased to partner with Hope Air to make it easy for sick children and their guardians to make it to their appointments,” said Leslie Arnold, vice-president, Provincial Child Health, Provincial Health Services Authority. “We encourage families needing to travel to BC Children’s Hospital from out of town to speak to a hospital social worker about low cost transportation and accommodation options.”