Health care service provider Vancouver Coastal Health (VCH) is calling on the Sea to Sky Corridor to help identify and address medical transportation challenges facing the region.
VCH issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in late January for eligible consultants that can provide documentation of the main challenges affecting health transportation in the Sea to Sky, and key recommendations that will address these concerns.
“Our hope is that detailed documentation of health transportation needs will assist in securing funding and partnerships for innovative transportation programs,” wrote Janet Hickey-Blackburn, manager of home and community care in the Sea to Sky, in an email Tuesday (Feb. 12). “Seniors, families with children in need of regular health treatment, individuals with disabilities, mental health and low income individuals often face numerous barriers when trying to access or support individuals trying to access medical services outside of their community.”
The recommendations should be easily implemented and practical, according to the RFP document. Consultants have also been asked to provide a five-year projection of the future needs for health transportation in the Sea to Sky following engagement with local community and health groups as well as local government representatives.
Mayor Nancy Wilhelm-Morden confirmed that RMOW officials would meet with VCH representatives once a consultant is retained.
Local non-profit organizations the Mature Action Committee and the Whistler Community Services Society (WCSS) met with VCH in May and November leading up to the RFP.
“It’s been a lot of brainstorming trying to determine where that need is. We didn’t give them any specific recommendations; we’re more in the beginning stages,” said WCSS outreach program manager Claire Mozes.
WCSS currently administers Helping Hand, a volunteer program that offers transportation out of town for those in need of medical treatment. Mozes said the majority of the program’s users need reliable transportation to Vancouver for medical treatment.
From April to January WCSS provided six long distance rides for locals in addition to eight inquiries that were not fulfilled due to volunteer scheduling issues. The non-profit organizations also matched 14 clients with volunteers to assist them in getting around Whistler for essential needs. Thirty-three bus tickets were provided to low-income individuals requiring transportation to Squamish or Vancouver for medical or social service programs unavailable in Whistler.
WCSS is willing to suspend Helping Hand if VCH takes the lead on a new initiative.
“If VCH comes up with an amazing plan and they want to take it all on then we would just refer clients to that. We don’t feel like we have to have ownership over the program,” said Mozes.
According to VCH, a successful applicant will have to meet the four criteria set out in the RFP by demonstrating an understanding of the different communities in the Sea to Sky corridor, showing an ability to develop partnerships and acquire funding sources, demonstrating prior community planning knowledge and experience and providing a sound plan that will successfully deliver on the project’s goals.
VCH has allocated an $8,000 budget for the successful applicant to complete the project.
A copy of the proposal must be received by Monday (Feb. 18). VCH will award the contract by the end of the month. The final draft of the plan is expected for early June following consultation with Sea to Sky health care providers, municipal officials and community organizations.
To request the full RFP document, email firstname.lastname@example.org.