A West Kootenay medical transport company says it can provide the same service as Interior Health for much cheaper. Photo: Interior Medical Transport

A West Kootenay medical transport company says it can provide the same service as Interior Health for much cheaper. Photo: Interior Medical Transport

New Kootenay service aims to cut cost of medical transportation

Interior Medical Transport says it can save Interior Health on expensive trips

by John Boivin

Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The head of a new service based in the West Kootenay is hoping to cut the cost of medical transport in the region.

“We believe it doesn’t matter where you live – everyone should have access to good medical care,” says Tabatha Webber, the chief operating officer for Interior Medical Transport. “We all live in the Kootenays. We know what it’s like when you have to go to a doctor’s appointment in Kelowna or Vancouver, especially in the winter months when you’re going over mountain passes. This is a way we can help and facilitate that.”

Webber came to a meeting of the West Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital District board last month to introduce the company to regional officials.

Started just this March, at the beginning of the pandemic shutdown, Webber says the service could have picked a better time to start a business. But it’s been going well: it has ambulances in Trail and Creston and 10 staff, mostly made up of former police, emergency responder and military personnel. They cover the entire West Kootenay, right to Nakusp. They’re looking at expanding to Grand Forks and Cranbrook soon.

She says the service is for people who need transportation to go to doctor’s appointments, to and from the hospital, or between communities, medical facilities and care homes.

“Accessing medical appointments or treatments can be very costly and patients should not have to choose between their health and necessities like food or rent,” she says. “Your support means patients and their families can access appropriate medical care. They won’t have to delay or cancel appointments or worry about how they will be able to afford to get there.”

She says the company can meet the transportation needs of lower-level medical cases, saving Interior Health and insurers tens of thousands of dollars annually. A typical ambulance trip from Grand Forks to Trail hospital might cost IH well over $1,000, she says. Her company would charge around $300, depending on circumstances.

She showed the board a table predicting that between transfers and bed-cost savings, IH could save nearly $1.5 million in costs annually using their service.

But Webber didn’t come to the meeting looking for business from IH: her request was for an endorsement from the board in order to apply for government and private grants to cut the cost to patients even further. Similar organizations run in other provinces and regions of B.C., she says, so they feel external support could be available.

“We’re really not re-inventing the wheel,” says Webber, citing the STARS provincial ambulance service in Alberta as an example. “We’re really just giving the Kootenays a service that’s been lacking a long time.”

While several directors lauded IMS for coming to the Kootenays, the board made no motion to give the company its sought-after endorsement.

– Valley Voice

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Terry Miller won the Rossland byelection.on Saturday.  Photo: Terry Miller
Rossland voters select Terry Miller as new councillor

City of Rossland releases results of advance voting and final voting day of council byelection

RNG plant
Construction on ground-breaking RNG plant in Fruitvale set to go in spring 2021

REN Energy partners with Calgary engineering firm for innovative West Kootenay gas plant

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
47 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health region

1,538 total cases, 399 are active, ten in hospital

This picture of Taghum resident Marc Savard was taken in February when he first spoke to the Nelson Star and little was known about the virus that had shut him out of his job in Wuhan, China. Photo: Tyler Harper
VIDEO: Once an outlier, Nelson man’s COVID-19 experience now typical

Savard was living in Wuhan, China, when the pandemic began

Communities like Nakusp are grappling with the challenge of hooking high-speed internet up at individual homes. File photo
‘Last mile’ debate a Gordian knot in Slocan Valley’s fibre-optic cable plans

How do you bring high-speed internet not just to communities, but individual homes?

(Dave Landine/Facebook)
VIDEO: Dashcam captures head-on crash between snowplow and truck on northern B.C. highway

Driver posted to social media that he walked away largely unscathed

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

A B.C. Ambulance Service paramedic wearing a face mask to curb the spread of COVID-19 moves a stretcher outside an ambulance at Royal Columbia Hospital, in New Westminster, B.C., on Sunday, November 29, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Top doctor urges Canadians to limit gatherings as ‘deeply concerning’ outbreaks continue

Canada’s active cases currently stand at 63,835, compared to 53,907 a week prior

A Canadian Pacific freight train travels around Morant’s Curve near Lake Louise, Alta., on Monday, Dec. 1, 2014. A study looking at 646 wildlife deaths along the railway tracks in Banff and Yoho national parks in Alberta and British Columbia has found that train speed is one of the biggest factors. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Study finds train speed a top factor in wildlife deaths in Banff, Yoho national parks

Research concludes effective mitigation could address train speed and ability of wildlife to see trains

A airport worker is pictured at Vancouver International Airport in Richmond, B.C. Wednesday, March 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Canada extends COVID restrictions for non-U.S. travellers until Jan. 21 amid second wave

This ban is separate from the one restricting non-essential U.S. travel

Menno Place. (Google Street View image.)
B.C. care home looks to hire residents’ family members amid COVID-19-related staff shortage

Family would get paid as temporary workers, while having chance to see loved ones while wearing PPE

A man walks by a COVID-19 test pod at the Vancouver airport in this undated handout photo. A study has launched to investigate the safest and most efficient way to rapidly test for COVID-19 in people taking off from the Vancouver airport. The airport authority says the study that got underway Friday at WestJet’s domestic check-in area is the first of its kind in Canada. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Vancouver Airport Authority *MANDATORY CREDIT*
COVID-19 rapid test study launches at Vancouver airport for departing passengers

Airport authority says that a positive rapid test result does not constitute a medical diagnosis for COVID-19

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

Follow public health recommendations, says Interior Health as COVID-19 cases continue to climb in Revelstoke. (Image courtesy CDC)
Revelstoke positive COVID cases grows to 29

Interior Health announced a cluster in the community on Nov. 26

Most Read