Disabled Peoples Incorporated (DPI) has been devastated by the news that it will no longer receive funding to provide free transport for renal patients to access their dialysis appointments.
DPI transport manager Carol Craney said the organisation was concerned about the impact Country Health SA’s decision would have on patients.
“We’ve had this relationship with some of the patients since the beginning of the Whyalla unit and before that when we were transporting patients to Port Augusta’s dialysis unit,” Mrs Craney said.
Mrs Craney said it was sad that this long-serving relationship would be altered and in some cases possibly end by this decision.
The service is well-utilised by renal patients with regular bookings each week to transport patients to and from dialysis treatment.
The morning dialysis treatment pick up starts from 7am in the morning for a 7.30am appointment and then afternoon appointments usually finish between 7.30pm and 8pm.
Mrs Craney said where some clients were located they would not be able to make the distance to a bus stop and the cost of taxis would add up.
“They would never be able to get to a bus stop and especially at night time,” Mrs Craney said.
“Even travelling with DPI at small fee is going to be expensive for them.”
Mrs Craney said patients usually required the service three times a week so they developed a relationship with the drivers and had the comfort of being looked after by the same volunteers.
“They get to know their drivers,” Mrs Craney said.
Renal patient Sonia Champion attends dialysis appointments three times a week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday with sessions taking about five and a half hours.
Ms Champion said the treatment was very tiring and often she would not feel her best following an appointment.
“You’re just exhausted,” Ms Champion said.
“You can’t even blink sometimes.”
Mrs Craney said it was evident that the treatment was tolling the patients as many patients would fall asleep on the way home.
“It’s takes it out of them,” Mrs Craney said.
Mrs Craney said many of the patients also lived by themselves and faced the usual everyday costs such as rent, bills and food plus the added cost of medical treatment.
“You get to know them and realise that they’re stretched,” Mrs Craney said.
Eyre, Flinders and Far North Regional director Ros McRae said from January 1 next year, patients who wish to access the bus to and from their renal dialysis appointments would be asked to contribute a nominal fee each way to help cover the cost of the transport.
“Transport to and from renal appointments will be provided by Whyalla organisation Disabled Peoples Incorporated and all money earned from patient fares will go directly to the organisation,” Ms McRae said.
“The 16 renal dialysis patients who currently use the transport have been informed of this change and we will support them while they adjust to the new fare system.”