As Canadians, we have the privilege of universal health care, yet most people don’t realize that there is no universal access to that health care. This is due in part to the size and geography of the country.
Imagine living in Hearst, Ontario, and being diagnosed with cancer. Then imagine that the only place they can treat your type of cancer is in Toronto. The drive to Toronto is 10 and a half hours or 17 hours on the bus! Imagine having to drive that distance after having received chemotherapy. At this point, you may consider cancelling or postponing appointments because of the time and the cost of getting there. This is a reality for many people.
Many patients need treatment weekly, and for many months. The cost of getting there and back and accommodations can drain the healthiest bank account. One of Hope Air’s patients was a teenage boy who lived in Timmins, Ontario. He needed weekly treatment in Toronto. Over a period of three years, the family had to travel between Timmins and Toronto over 150 times! The financial burden can be enormous.
That’s where Hope Air comes in. Hope Air “bridges the distance between home and hospital,” so the patient and their family can concentrate on their health while relieving some of the financial burdens. Hope Air relies on donations from airlines, corporations, foundations, government supporters, and individual donors.
Hope Air is Canada’s only national charity that provides free travel and accommodations for Canadians in financial need. The first flight was in 1986, and more than 162,000 travel arrangements have been made since.
Patients are transported free of charge via commercial flights or by flights provided by volunteer pilots in their own small airplanes. A couple of those pilots are right here in Kingston. All flight requests are screened to ensure that there is an actual need. The patient must show financial need, they must have a medical appointment which is covered by the provincial health care plan, and they must be medically cleared to fly.
Money and access shouldn’t be something a person with a health challenge needs to worry about on the journey to getting their health back. Check out the Hope Air website for more information on the organization and how you can help.
This article was written and submitted by Lori Sweet and Sylvio Roy.
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