(Left to Right) Kelowna residents Bristol and Henry Debowski

New partnership lets Kelowna family save on medical transportation costs

New Hope Air and Airbnb initiative provides patients free accommodation while traveling to city centres for medical reasons

A new partnership between two high-profile businesses is about to save Kelowna residents Bristol and her son Henry Debowski a lot of stress and money.

Hope Air — a charity that covers financial costs for Canadians travelling for medical reasons — has announced that they’ve partnered with Airbnb to cover free accommodation for those same people travelling.

The Debowskis will be one of the first families to benefit from the new partnership when they stay in a Airbnb free-of-charge next week in Vancouver as part of a medical trip for Henry.

READ MORE: Okanagan Foundation supports Hope Air medical care flights

The families’ lives changed considerably last April when Henry was diagnosed with leukemia on April 8, 2019. After Henry got a blood transfusion at Kelowna General Hospital, the family flew to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver from Kelowna the next day to find out further treatment options.

It was then the Debowski’s found out they’d have to fly to Vancouver for Henry’s chemotherapy treatments on a routine basis over the next four years.

While Bristol said they’ve already benefited from free transportation costs from the Hope Air charity, she said the additional accommodation costs saved for Henry’s medical trips will be an added bonus.

“This announcement is huge for sure. I won’t have to come up with any amount of money for trips. That money saved from the trip can be used for Henry’s medication and food.”

Bristol said the process for getting the accommodation and travel costs covered is extremely easy.

“You give (Hope Air) your specialist’s information, the date and time of your appointment, your doctor’s contact information, and when you prefer to go,” said Bristol.

“(After), they do a follow-up with the doctor, and they get back to you and say you’re approved.”

With the new Airbnb partnership, Canadians travelling to city centres for medical trips are eligible to have their accommodation costs covered for up to seven nights.

Bristol said she found out about the service when Henry’s grandpa was doing research online about affordable transportation between Kelowna and Vancouver. After the discovery, she estimates that her family has already saved thousands of dollars in transportation costs from Hope Air.

“We’ve probably flown between the two cities close to 30 times,” said Bristol.

“I’m estimating that we’ve saved five to ten thousand dollars from the service so far.”

When asked about what Henry thought of the new service, he had a pretty clear answer.

“ I think it’s amazing.”


@connortrembley
connor.trembley@kelownacapnews.com

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