Shuttle shifted 10,000
It was always going to be a popular service but no-one anticipated just how fast the Matamata Community Health Shuttle would take off.
In just five years and four months, the shuttle has transported a staggering 10,000 passengers to medical appointments in Hamilton and further afield.
Leone D’Ott was the official 10,000th passenger and a huge bunch of flowers was awaiting her arrival back in Matamata last Tuesday.
‘‘It is an absolutely service,’’ she said.
‘‘They are always so helpful and try to make it as stress-free as possible.’’
The idea was thought up about seven years ago, after groups such as the RSA were running low on resources to transport their own members.
Matamata Community Health Shuttle Trust chairman Garry Stanley said it made sense to run one service for all Matamata residents.
‘‘We were originally told that 7000 people a year go to Waikato Hospital from the whole Matamata area,’’ he said.
‘‘We thought if we got 10 per cent then that’s 700 a year, but we have at least three times that now.’’
The service started out with a single 12- seater shuttle and a committed team of drivers and support volunteers.
Today, there are two
shuttles and a seven-seater van based at Railside by the Green, that are capable of transporting 25 people a day.
Close to 50 volunteers keep the service running and each load of passengers has a support person available to help them find appointments.
‘‘ We have got a tremendous bunch of volunteers,’’ Mr Stanley said. ‘‘It’s absolutely fantastic. ‘‘When we have our monthly meetings, they are all queuing up to go on the roster.’’
It is a door-to-door service, with passengers picked up from their homes and taken right to the ward or clinic they are visiting.
As well as Waikato Hospital, the shuttle also makes trips to Thames, Tauranga and Rotorua when needed.
The service is funded by passenger donations – optional – and the support of other local organis- ations.
‘‘It has been a huge success,’’ Mr Stanley said.
‘‘It’s been a real pleasure to be involved with something that’s gone so well.’’
Major milestone: Matamata Community Health Shuttle’s 10,000th passenger, Leone D’Ott, with chairman Garry Stanley, operations officer Wally Henderson and support volunteer Jan Counsell.