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Funding needed to expand Kootenay Seniors medical transportation

Kootenay Seniors is looking for more volunteers and more money to aid in transporting seniors to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital in Trail.

Nelson Cares developed the Kootenay Seniors program after a feasibility study showed an increased need to connect people to medical care in the region.

“The transport helps people get to any medical appointments, and departs Nelson at 6:30 in the morning,” says Joanne Motta, program manager for Kootenay Seniors.

The bus is wheelchair accessible and can accommodate up to seven people per trip, says Motta.

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The challenge for Kootenay Seniors to keep volunteers is the cost of fuel. “Some of our drivers are paying for gas out of their pocket, which isn’t ideal, but we do reimburse up to 51 cents on the kilometer,” says Motta.

“People are overstretched and on a fixed income, so they can’t afford a taxi to Trail,” said Motta, “therefore we are looking for federal funding and more volunteers to expand the service.”

“We do have funding coming from United Way BC, Osprey Foundation, and BC Gaming but more funding is needed as our population ages,” says Motta.

The decline in service has left seniors struggling to attend appointments, even canceling them, she says.

Kootenay Seniors currently operates the medical transportation between Kaslo and Trail. The service runs three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

The bus is open to anyone who is challenged with obtaining transportation and costs $35, which is $165 less than a cab to the hospital.

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