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Dialysis patient loses his ride
For over a month, Langley resident Pat Wiesner has been getting up early in the morning to drive her husband Garry to his three-times-a-week dialysis appointments in Surrey.
That means finding someone to look after her 92-year-old mother, who lives with the couple and cannot be left by herself.
Pat says she may have to postpone her planned knee replacement surgery if something isn’t worked out soon.
The couple told The Times that HandyDart stopped taking Garry to his appointments after a Fraser Health social worker asked him if he was capable of driving himself.
“I said, ‘sometimes,’” Garry said.
“She [the social worker] took that to mean all the time.”
The 66-year-old former trucker, who is also insulin-dependent, says he tried to explain that he can’t predict from one day to the next if he will be up to driving himself.
“I don’t know what I’m going to feel like until I get up in the morning,” he said.
When the Wiesners learned the rides would be discontinued, they protested.
They said they’ve been told that there are no available HandyDart rides from Langley to the dialysis facility on the days Garry usually goes.
They’ve been told Garry could get a ride on other days or other times of day, but they say changing his schedule like that will mean losing a male care worker he’s had assisting him at home for five years.
“It’s just a nightmare,” Pat said.
“It’s like the house is caving in on us.”
While they try to work things out with Fraser Heath, they have had to shoulder the expense of the frequent drives to and from Surrey.
Garry is a pensioner and Pat is on disability.
“It’s not like we’re rolling in the dough here,” she said.
At press time Wednesday, following a query by The Times, Fraser Health was looking into the the Wiesner case.
A recently released union-funded study claims the number of HandyDart users denied trips over the past five years has increased sevenfold.
The report by transportation planner Eric Doherty said the number of HandyDart trip denials skyrocketed from 5,000 in 2008 to 37,690 last year.
Doherty’s report was prepared for the Amalgamated Transit Union that represents HandyDart drivers.
The union is unhappy with TransLink’s decision this year to use less costly taxis to provide trips, a shift of 15,000 service hours that has meant layoffs for a few HandyDart drivers and a loss of full-time status for others.
— with files from
Jeff Nagel/Black Press