By Mariah McCooey-The Northern Health Authority is currently negotiating with airlines, hotels, and ground transportation providers, with the goal of reducing costs for patients in the north who have to travel to see health specialists.
A special fund of $4-million a year from the provincial government will go toward subsidized transportation and accommodation, and plans should be finalized by or before September, said NHA spokesperson Mark Karjaluoto.
“There are needs out there,” he said. “It’s been identified as an area of concern throughout northern communities.”
The details are still in the works, said Mr. Karjaluoto, but the plans are geared toward providing more convenient, cheaper access to specialists and specialized diagnostic testing that is not available in patients’ home communities.
The funding will go toward subsidizing accommodations, and toward reducing the cost of return airfare for people who have been medivaced on short notice, as well as providing ground transportation between key northern communities, such as Terrace and Prince Rupert.
There is already a Travel Assistance Program, administrated by the provincial government, but it does not cover expenses such as airline travel to and from Vancouver. The current program provides free ferry transport, and partial discounts from companies such as Harbour Air, Pacific Coach Lines, and VIA Rail. The new plan will complement this program and further reduce the cost of travel for patients.
We will keep you posted as the details are finalized.
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