Several Nelson residents who attend Trail hospital twice per week for kidney dialysis treatment are now stuck for a ride.
As of May 27, the shuttle bus run by Nelson CARES has lost its funding and was discontinued. The riders paid $35 per round trip for this service.
“We have to find our own way now,” says Millie Harper, who was a regular rider, and who is not able to drive herself.
“All our families are working full time and unable to take us. So we’re sort of in a dilemma right now. We’re counting on somebody to help us.”
Jac Nobiss, executive director of Nelson CARES, told the Nelson Star in an email that her organization hopes Interior Health can step in.
“As this is a medical need, it is outside our scope as a non-profit in the housing area,” she said, adding that the funding for the bus from from a source that was known to be temporary.
“It is not just the cost of the bus (gas, maintenance, driver) but also the coordination aspect,” she said. “We briefly took it on to fill a gap but no longer have the funding.”
Last year, Rob Wood, a user of the shuttle bus, circulated a petition asking IH to provide a dialysis machine in Nelson.
BC Transit buses travel to the Trail hospital from Castlegar several times each day but Wood says its schedule, and the need to change busses in Castlegar, does not work for him because it does not coincide well with their four-hour dialysis appointments.
A dialysis machine is an artificial kidney through which a patient’s blood is pumped for purification, then returned to the body.
There are dialysis machines in the hospitals in Creston and Grand Forks but not in Nelson.
A spokesperson for IH told the Nelson Star there has never been a dialysis machine in Nelson and the agency has no plans to put one here.
The spokesperson said there are currently ten people who travel from Nelson to Trail for dialysis.
Mike Sherwood, the owner of Sherwood Shuttle Services in Castlegar said his regular price for a Nelson to Trail trip would normally be $100 to $150 per round trip (including his travel to and from from Castlegar after the trip) but he is willing to significantly reduce that price for people in need, although he did not say what his reduced price would be.