No-stress ser­vice for pa­tients

Matamata Chronicle - - News - By NI­COLA STE­WART

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.

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