A new transport service will take patients from Cannonvale and Proserpine directly to their appointments at Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Laura Thomas
A new transport service will take patients from Cannonvale and Proserpine directly to their appointments at Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Laura Thomas

Free hospital transport service gets green light

A NEW door-to-door service that will drive patients directly to their appointments at Mackay Base Hospital has been given the cash splash needed to get the wheels in motion.

Whitsunday Regional Council approved a $20,000 donation to the Mackay Hospital Foundation during this week's ordinary council meeting for the new hospital transport service.

The free service will provide door-to-door transport for 80 patients every week in a nine-seat people mover.

This will mean up to 80 patients from Proserpine and Cannonvale will have a direct ride to Mackay Hospital and back every week.

Mackay Hospital Foundation CEO T'aire Olsen said the idea came about when the organisation was approached by staff from Proserpine Hospital.

"We understand that there have been stories of people from those communities that simply can't get to Mackay for their important appointments," she said.

Janet and Navio Zeglio travel to Mackay from Midge Point every week for Mrs Zeglio’s kidney dialysis. Picture: Laura Thomas
Janet and Navio Zeglio travel to Mackay from Midge Point every week for Mrs Zeglio’s kidney dialysis. Picture: Laura Thomas

Ms Olsen said this was because of a range of factors like the ageing population and a lack of public transport between Mackay and the Whitsundays.

This will be the foundation's first patient transport service, but plans are already in the works to expand to Sarina, Collinsville and Bowen.

The scheme was welcomed with slight caution by Midge Point resident Janet Zeglio who travels to Mackay every week for kidney dialysis.

Mrs Zeglio and her husband Navio have been pushing for a kidney dialysis service to be set up in Proserpine as the nine-hour return trip takes a toll on the couple.

The pair have to get up at 5.30am to make the appointment, which Mr Zeglio said took a physical and emotional toll.

The new service will provide free transport to and from Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Tony Martin
The new service will provide free transport to and from Mackay Base Hospital. Picture: Tony Martin

Mrs Zeglio said she wouldn't know how much the service would benefit her until she was able to try it.

"I'm not sure that it would help me but I'm all for anyone getting help," she said.

"There's still some challenges for me, but I can see that it's going to help other people who are fit enough.

"My husband wouldn't have to hang around in car park for six hours."

She said if it worked, it would also give her peace of mind on the long drive home when she felt she needed to stay awake while her husband drove.

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Ms Olsen said the transport service would be launched "as soon as humanely possible" and flagged the inaugural journey for early-2021.

Bookings for the bus will be administered through the Proserpine Hospital and Ms Olsen hoped the foundation would work to help as many residents as they could.

"We want to make it an inclusive service as much as possible," she said.

"If we can pick them up at home and bring them through, we will work out the logistics as best we can."


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