No-stress service for patients
Every weekday a team of Matamata volunteers is busy helping people to navigate the maze that is Waikato Hospital.
The Matamata Community Health Shuttle is a non-profit service that provides transport to and from Hamilton for medical appointments. Operations manager Russell Green said many people in the community found making the trip themselves a daunting prospect.
‘‘People travelling to the hospital are often stressed. Some of them don’t know where they are going – it can be quite frightening for a lot of people.’’
The organisation provides a door-to-door service to any medical site in Hamilton, as well as a support person who is on hand to help people to find their appointments.
Since the opening of the hospital car park building, it could be more difficult and expensive for people to find parking, said Mr Green.
‘‘We are able to take people exactly where they need to go, without the added stress of looking for a park or paying for petrol.’’
The service was set up four years ago by the Matamata Community Health Shuttle Trust and is funded by passenger donations and support from local businesses.
‘‘The community are really behind us,’’ said Mr Green. ‘‘ When Z service station asked people what four charities they would like to support, they came back with the fire service, St John, Pohlen Hospital and us.’’
Nineteen drivers and 22 support people volunteer for the service and they all receive first aid training.
They are capable of taking up to 23 passengers each day and last year they helped 2000 people to make their appointments. Volunteers Ernest and Ngaire Lepper have lived in Matamata all their lives and were involved with the operation from the start.
‘‘ It’s a big commitment but we have loved doing it. Helping people is in our blood.
‘‘It’s a fantastic service and you never know when you might need it yourself,’’ said Mrs Lepper.
To make a donation to the Matamata Community Health Shuttle contact Railside. If you are interested in becoming a volunteer contact Mr Green on 027 588 8605.
Driving force: Matamata Community Health Shuttle volunteers, from left, Peter Olson, Russell Green, Ngaire and Ernest Lepper.