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

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
65 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

Overall, B.C. is seeing a decrease in COVID-19 cases

Photo of handguns and illicit drugs Trail RCMP reported to have seized from a Trail man on Sunday. Photo: Trail RCMP
Drugs and guns seized from Trail man

A call came into the detachment that a man was asleep behind the wheel

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Rain clouds were absent for most of April in the West Kootenay. Photo: Betsy Kline
April precipitation only one-third of normal in West Kootenay

Third month in a row with below average rain fall

The Trail RCMP is sharing a warning that originated with the Nova Scotia RCMP regarding an online sexual exploitation scam targeting youth. Photo: Mohammad Metri on Unsplash
Trail RCMP warn of digital sexploitation scheme targeting youth

Police want to get the message out to victims that you are not alone.

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

(Paul Henderson/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Experts now predict 33.6% rise in B.C. home sales for 2021

BCREA economists also predict home prices to increase by 14.3%

Most Read