Community transport for CUH patients

A VOLUNTARY drive to provide radiotherapy patients from West Cork with free transport to Cork University Hospital (CUH) has proved a major success and plans are now in place to do the same for those needing chemotherapy.

The project was started by the small community of Church Cross, near Skibbereen while the West Cork Rural Transport provided both a vehicle and administration.

A daily service was set up from Goleen into Skibbereen and onwards to CUH.

It has been in operation since April and is serviced by 50 volunteer drivers.

Prior to its introduction, many patients doing a 250-kilometre round-trip to access treatment were faced with having to take public transport.

David O’Brien, chief executive officer of West Cork Rural Transport, said the challenge of having to deal with cancer, in itself, could be quite traumatic never mind trying to organise transport.

Mr O’Brien said radiation therapists from CUH had been hugely supportive and treatment for patients has been scheduled between noon and 1pm to facilitate a minimum waiting time for all involved.

However, he said it was also recognised there was a need for a transport service to cater for people requiring chemotherapy.

Those passengers, he said, had a longer waiting day at the hospital and required one-to-one transport as they were also more vulnerable to infection.

A new push is being undertaken to find volunteers in the region who would be prepared to ferry patients to CUH and maybe have wait up to five hours before the return drive.

The organisation is also starting to fundraise to purchase a second vehicle to service chemotherapy patients and also to extend the radiotherapy service to other parts of West Cork.

As part of the fundraising, a sponsored swim will take place from Heir Island to Cunnamore pier, followed by a walk or a cycle to Minihan’s Bar, Lisheen from 11am — 12.30pm on Saturday week, August 6.

More in this section