Health Connections is a health authority based regional travel assistance program that offers subsidized transportation options to help defray costs for rural residents who must travel to obtain non-emergency, physician-referred medical care outside their home communities.
Health authorities, through funding from the Ministry of Health, have implemented Health Connections programs to meet the unique needs of selected communities in their regions.
Health Connections is separate from, but complementary to, the Travel Assistance Program.
IH Health Connections has developed bus services to link small communities with the regional/tertiary hospitals in all four health service areas. These are: Okanagan (links to Kelowna and Penticton), Thompson Cariboo Shuswap (links to Kamloops and Vernon), Kootenay Boundary (links to Trail) and East Kootenay (links to Cranbrook).
IH partners with regional districts and BC Transit to offer services to medical riders within health service areas, but routes don't currently cross health service area boundaries.
Island Health provides an operating grant to Wheels for Wellness, a non-profit society that provides door-to-door patient transportation primarily for trips on Vancouver Island that are over 75 kilometres one way. Wheels for Wellness does not provide services from other islands.
NH Connections retains a contractor to provide low-cost bus transportation for patients needing to travel for out-of-town medical appointments in northern BC and Vancouver.
Vancouver Coastal Health
Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) focuses its funding on the Central Coast and Bella Coola Valley. Bella Coola Valley Health Services has established a local HandyDART bus service in the Bella Coola Valley to provide transportation to medical appointments, adult day programs, foot clinics, etc.
In addition, Bella Coola Valley Health Services covers 100 percent of medically required air travel for patients from the Central Coast through purchase of discounted tickets with Pacific Coastal Airlines. Escorts are required to pay for their own transportation.