Hope Air provides access to care for British Columbians in remote communities

Monday, Aug 22, 2022

The Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation has partnered with Hope Air since 2020.

For British Columbians living in remote communities, travelling long distances to urban areas for specialized medical care can be difficult. To make matters worse, the individuals that require care are often burdened by physical limitations and many people cannot afford the travel costs to fly to their destination.

Enter Hope Air: Canada’s only national charity providing people in rural communities with free travel to and from medical care. Hope Air has been operating since 1986, and since then they’ve provided Canadians with over 160,000 free travel arrangements, including more than 70,000 trips for residents in British Columbia.

For people living on low income in rural communities, this support is essential as distance and cost are real barriers to accessing vital medical care. Hope Air estimates that, without access to their services, 35% of patients would have to travel by bus or car for anywhere from 4-12 hours each way to reach their medical appointments and 27% of patients would have to cancel or postpone their appointments altogether.

“1 in 9 Canadians live in poverty representing 4 million people. Accessing specialized medical care and lifting oneself out of poverty, are inextricably tied together.

Hope Air’s mission is to bridge the distance between home and hospital for those most in need by providing families with free flights, accommodations, meals, and ground transportation so they can focus on what matters most – their health”.

- Mark Rubinstein, CEO, Hope Air

The Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation provided a three-year $45,000 grant to Hope Air. This has provided approximately 60 travel arrangements per year for medical appointments related to chronic disease and mental health care.

Support of Hope Air programs and services is especially important now as the pandemic has created a backlog of thousands of vital medical treatments and appointments.

“Now, more than ever, patients need help getting from home to the hospital,” says Jennifer Starr, Senior Director, Corporate Partnerships, Hope Air. “We are so grateful to the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation for their support in ensuring BC patients in financial need reach their medical appointments despite cost or distance.”

Read about the health journeys of Hope Air patients here.