Letter: Having major surgery and expected to travel by Greyhound

Letter writer talks about difficulties getting to Kelowna from rural patients

To the editor:

Recently I found out that I had to go to Kelowna for lung surgery and would need transportation to and from Kelowna. With no family here and friends unable to drive me there and back (from Nelson) I needed other transportation, which I was willing to pay for.

I contacted departments associated with Interior Health Authority (IHA) as well as volunteer organizations. One of the people who worked for IHA told me that I could either take the Greyhound back or pay for a taxi, if I could afford it. When I told her that I was having lung surgery she said that other people took the Greyhound – I was having major surgery and was expected to travel by Greyhound?

Finding out about this lack of service added a huge level of stress—stress that I did not need on top of knowing what was ahead.

A few days before having to leave for Kelowna two people who I did not know offered to help; one to get me to Kelowna and the other would drive from Nelson to Kelowna to pick me up post surgery and get me back home. I am so very grateful to these two people.

I guess what I want to say is that in case of major surgery:

1. Make sure that you have a spouse or family living close by, and if not

2. Make sure that you have friends who are able to get you there and back.

The above two suggestions are said tongue-in-cheek, but transportation is a huge issue for people in rural areas.

Although I belong to the older generation, younger people may also find themselves in similar situations. Perhaps they have had an accident and have no family around, their friends are working or have small children and are unable to take them back and forth to Kelowna or another major centre.

I do know that many people have to go to Kelowna for heart or cancer surgery as well as follow-ups. Rural areas are in need of better health care and that includes transportation.

Birthe W. Achtner, Nelson