The best healthcare programs are rendered useless if patients can’t get to their appointments.
Brantford city council has joined a growing chorus of government, healthcare and seniors groups – led locally by transportation organization Operation Lift – in petitioning provincial Local Integrated Health Networks to automatically take transportation into account when allocating funding.
As Brantford’s sole specialized transportation service, Operation Lift is the only option for seniors and those with mobility issues who need a ride to social outings, shopping or medical appointments.
About half of the rides Operation Lift provided in 2011 and so far in 2012 are health-related. The increasing need for such trips limits the number of non-medical rides the service can offer and puts strain on an organization already running a deficit as it tries to cope with ever-growing demand.
LHINs have recognized transportation as one of three top challenges to health care, in part because groups like Operation Lift have explained the plight of residents cut off from needed services.
As an example, seniors day programs at the John Noble Home are funded by the LHIN, but transportation for participants is not, meaning some seniors who could benefit from the programs can’t take advantage of them.
Lack of access because of inadequate transportation also increases poor health and disability, ultimately resulting in higher hospitalization rates, said Operation Lift executive director Dorothy DeVuono.
Incorporating money for transportation into each LHIN-funded program would ensure that where patients live would have no bearing on their ability to access care, said Operation Lift co-chair Linda Hunt.
“If we have proper funding for medical and health-related trips, the municipality’s portion (of the Operation Lift budget) is lessened,” Hunt said.
Locally, the city will write to the Hamilton-Niagara-Haldimand-Brant LHIN and the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, as well as MPP Dave Levac, asking that Operation Lift receive funding earmarked for health-related transportation.