Skip to content

LETTER: Driving dialysis patients to Trail hospital is an ordeal

From reader Jim Orser
Nelson, B.C. Photo: Bill Metcalfe

It’s unbelievable our health care system refuses to take pity on our dialysis patients. Three times a week I drive seniors in my small car to Trail. These patients should be getting the treatment they need here in Nelson.

To qualify as a driver for the West Kootenay Volunteer Driver Program, I had to pass a criminal record check and buy $3 million extra liability insurance in case of accidents.

Our trip starts at 5:30 a.m., and often I don’t get home before 4 p.m. if patients need extra tests. In the spring, I deal with snow and heavy traffic because folks like to get out in the good weather. There are the tourists in the summer to contend with, not to mention the wildlife. The fall demands we change our tires because the roads get icy.

Winter is the worst. Recently, on the highway between Nelson and Castlegar, a pickup slid towards us from across the yellow line. Luckily, he didn’t hit us. Two weeks ago, I had to drive through eight inches of snow to pick up a passenger and back 100 feet up a hill because there were vehicles stuck at the bottom.

All this puts a lot of stress on elders with disabilities to endure.

Previously, as a firefighter and ambulance driver, I’ve transported elders from old folks’ homes to Kelowna and Vernon, and to our hospital in Nelson. Many ambulance drivers quit because they couldn’t stand rappelling down mountain sides or seeing bloody body parts along the roads.

Trail wasn’t a regional hospital back then. Our hospital was the Kootenay Lake District Hospital. It was a good hospital and still is.

We need to provide hemodialysis treatments at the Nelson hospital for renal patients who now travel to Trail from far away as Mirror Lake and Ainsworth.

Jim Orser