Shut­tle makes smooth start

Te Puke Times - - News -

The St John health shut­tle team made its 300th pa­tient trip last week.

St John Te Puke area com­mit­tee chair­woman Lyn Goven­lock says this achieve­ment has jus­ti­fied the es­tab­lish­ment of the ser­vice, which is still in a trial phase.

“We are thrilled that it ap­pears that we are meet­ing a need and very proud of the team re­cruited to de­liver this ser­vice,” she says.

Oper­at­ing for just over four months, the cur­rent 10 vol­un­teers have set­tled into a well-man­aged rou­tine that spans Mon­day to Fri­day. Since it started in early July nearly 80 peo­ple have booked to have the shut­tle trans­port them to and most times from med­i­cal-re­lated ap­point­ments.

The ser­vice is cur­rently lim­ited to trips to Pa­pamoa, Mount Maun­ganui and Tau­ranga.

“Lim­it­ing where we would go dur­ing this early phase was im­por­tant,” says Lyn.

“It has given us a chance to see what de­mand there is and to en­sure that we don’t try to be all things to all peo­ple right from the start.”

Lyn is op­ti­mistic there will even­tu­ally be a ser­vice to Whakata¯ ne.

“But it cer­tainly won’t hap­pen un­til we have an ad­di­tional shut­tle and ad­e­quate num­bers of vol­un­teers” she says.

“Firstly we will need or­gan­i­sa­tional ap­proval to move from the trial stage to re­tain­ing this as a per­ma­nent St John Te Puke com­mu­nity health ser­vice.

“So, we could be at least 12 months away from con­sid­er­ing that sort of ex­pan­sion.”

There were 12 cus­tomer trips un­der­taken on Oc­to­ber 17, the ser­vice’s busiest day to date.

The vol­un­teers work shifts be­tween 7am and 5pm. Pick­ing up mul­ti­ple cus­tomers cre­ates a 90-minute trans­port lead-time for book­ings.

This means book­ings can’t be ac­cepted for Tau­ranga-based ap­point­ments prior to 9am, and at the other end of the day, the shut­tle needs to leave Tau­ranga no later than 3.30pm.

“All shut­tle crew mem­bers are vol­un­teers,” says Lyn, “so it’s im­por­tant we look af­ter them and give them some cer­tainty around ex­pected work hours. We are blessed with the cal­i­bre of vol­un­teers driv­ing our health shut­tle and work­ing ros­ters to fit around their per­son­ally given days is es­sen­tial.”

More health shut­tle driv­ers are needed to spread the load as de­mand con­tin­ues to grow.

Progress to date sug­gests the ser­vice is on track for ap­proval to be­come a per­ma­nent St John com­mu­nity health ser­vice over the com­ing six months once all pre-req­ui­site con­di­tions have been met.

■ Any­one in­ter­ested in con­sid­er­ing be­com­ing a St John Health Shut­tle vol­un­teer is in­vited to con­tact [email protected] to ar­range for a no obli­ga­tion ob­server shift with a crew to see if this vol­un­teer­ing op­tion might suit.

The Te Puke St John health shut­tle team.

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