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Inspire: Partnership makes Community Health Transportation service possible

Funded by the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), the Community Health Transportation program first started as a pilot program for the Township of Terrace Bay.
terrace bay community transportation photo 1
Terrace Bay Superior Seniors Centre partners with Township to offer Community Health Transportation program.

TERRACE BAY—Terrace Bay Superior Senior Centre, has a special individual who devotes a lot of her time and hard work maintaining a service that ensures residents, not just seniors, have a means of getting to medical appointments in Thunder Bay.

Edna Arthur, coordinator for Terrace Bay Superior Senior Centre, has been helping to run this program since 2015. She spoke at length about this program, how it works and why it is so important to have and maintain.

Back in 2015, when this program began, the town needed a partner to run the program known as Community Health Transportation. Their Superior Senior Centre agreed to partner with them and administer this service.

“Back in 2015 the township applied for a grant from the Ministry of Transportation. It was approved and we started to provide the service.” stated Arthur. “What we do is provide transportation to anyone in the community that requires a ride from Terrace Bay for medical reasons; strictly for medical purposes to Thunder Bay,” added Arthur.

Key medical purposes include going to Dr. appointments, for CT scans, MRI, and a huge one Arthur mentions is for residents to see a Specialists. “We do take people for eye and dental appointments, as well,” said Arthur.

Arthur describes how this service is available to all ages not limited just to seniors. Although, it serves the areas for McCausland Hospital in Terrace Bay, they also provide this service to the people from Marathon. She indicated that those residents only need to call the seniors office to book an appointment.

She described how this service works. “We offer a round trip service that picks them up at the door, drives to Thunder Bay, with a drop off at the location of their appointment. The driver then returns to pick them up and bring them back home. We will stop for a break or meals along the way, if necessary,” said Arthur.

This service is definitely an important one and one that so many of these residents depend on. Arthur spoke about what the circumstances would be if this service did not exit. “People would have to rely on friends, neighbours or family members to take them to Thunder Bay for these medical appointments. Often these individuals are not available when the appointments exist or can not take time off work to help get them to these appointments,” explains Arthur.

She spoke about the fact that there is a bus service in the town, but the times available are not realistic nor is the return time appropriate. “Once the person gets to Thunder Bay by bus, they have to arrange transportation to and from their appointment,” stated Arthur.

Arthur, coordinates the schedules needed to ensure that those needing to get to their medical appointments in Thunder Bay happens. She describes how they have several qualified drivers that she schedules in such a way that it is not always the same individual doing the driving. She also explained the dynamics involved when an individual’s appointment falls late at night or extremely early in the morning. “Let’s say for example the person’s CT scan appointment is for 10 p.m. I won’t schedule a driver to drive out that late at night. Instead, we take the person to Thunder Bay the day before, and the driver will then pick that person up and take them back to their hotel as needed,” stated Arthur.

Driver and individual safety, is always a priority as well. “During pre-COVID, we were running this program five days a week. Plus, we only run if we are booked, and take people out during the weekends if that works best,” added Arthur. Ministry of Transportation funding has been very important, as it continues to support such a vital service.

Luke Bedard, community development supervisor, for the Township of Terrace Bay and Arthur's supervisor for this program added his perspective. 

He too shared how this service is vital and for a nominal fee, residents from Terrace Bay, Schreiber, Marathon, Jackfish, Rossport, and Pays Plat, can arrange transportation for medical reasons to Thunder Bay.

Bedard commented how just as for all of Ontarians, facing limited access to health care services so too do residents of the region. “For residents in the region who have limited access to services, that is  something that, all residents in all of Ontario face, this helps support them stay in their homes and their community longer,” points out Bedard.

Bedard confirmed where the funding for program comes from. “It is funded by Ministry of Transport and the Township of Terrace Bay, and there is a user ride fee as well,” explained Bedard.

“This is a convenient affordable method for people to get to their medical appointment.” This is an extremely important service and we have our regulars, who use this often telling us how much they appreciate it,” stated Arthur.


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