SOUTH Gippsland Hospital’s Community Health Centre car has been in service for less than a year but is already proving its worth. The invaluable service, however, is sorely in need of more volunteer drivers.
“Our aim is to make a lack of transport no barrier to achieving good health,” said the manager of the community health centre, Samantha Park. “It’s been fantastic having the car, but the service is being jeopardised by a lack of volunteer drivers. If we had more drivers, we could offer so much more.”
At present the CHC car takes people who are unable to drive themselves, for one reason or another, to and from programs at the health centre, such as physiotherapy, strength and mobility clinics, the falls prevention clinic and exercise programs. Drivers collect clients from their homes, none of which are far away, but all in the Corner Inlet area – Fish Creek to Port Welshpool, Yanakie to Toora North – and take them to the community health centre, next to the hospital in Station Road, Foster.
“If we had more drivers we could offer to pick up people wishing to attend the diabetes, dietetics or women’s health clinics,” said Ms Park. “We have the clients, the car, the programs available, but we are limited by the number of volunteer drivers.”
The service is coordinated by the community health centre and aimed at people who find it very difficult to attend CHC programs because of a lack of transport. The service encourages them to attend programs more regularly. With it they are no longer reliant on the good will of a family member to drive them or good weather allowing them to take a bus.
“It is so much better for people attending rehab to attend regularly, ideally once or twice a week,” said physiotherapist Taryn Comben. “Having the transport to bring them into the centre regularly also helps with their progress at home, because their motivation to improve increases when they are aware that they are being regularly monitored.”
Bill Park is one of a handful of volunteer drivers of the CHC car, which is a new Holden sportswagon, an automatic model.
“It’s a very comfortable car, very nice to drive,” he said. “I’m happy to be a driver. I do it because I like to help people who can’t help themselves. You can see it in their faces how pleased they are.”
The service is coordinated well in advance by the community health centre, so the volunteer drivers know their schedule and can plan accordingly. All they need to do is turn up at the community health centre ready to drive. They are given a list of who to collect and deposit and off they go.
“We need more drivers like Bill,” said Sam Park. “I urge people to consider becoming a volunteer driver. Be assured you don’t have to drive far – just around the Corner Inlet district – and you can offer to drive as much or as little as you like. The more drivers the less often your services will be required.”
Anyone with a current Victorian driver’s licence (or equivalent) who would like to be a volunteer driver for the community health centre is invited to contact Sam Park at the community health centre at [email protected] or phone 5683 9780.