A spokesperson says the Fraser Health Authority is doing what it can to find rides for a Langley man who requires dialysis, but it is limited to acting as an advocate.
Tasleem Juma was responding to complaints by Garry and Pat Wiesner, who told The Times they have been unable to arrange HandyDart rides for Garry to a Surrey dialysis facility on the days he is scheduled for treatment.
Juma said Fraser Health has tried to make arrangements for the Wiesners with HandyDart, but the transit service can’t guarantee pickup on those days and the health authority doesn’t have the power to order them.
The authority did find alternate days when HandyDart service was available, but the Wiesners turned the proposal down because the change of schedule would lead to the loss of a home care worker.
Juma disputed the Wiesner’s suggestion that the difficulty finding rides began after he told a Fraser Health social worker that he could, some times, drive himself to treatment.
“The social worker has no influence over whether an individual gets access to the HandyDart service,” Juma said.
Juma said the authority will continue efforts to find a solution for the Wiesners.
“We understand that it’s frustrating,” Juma said.
Garry Wiesner said he appreciates that there are a limited number of HandyDart rides available, either as HandyDart vans or contracted taxis, which is why he tries to drive himself as much as possible.
“If I’m able to drive, why should I take a seat that someone else can use?” Wiesner said.
“I’m not asking for preferential treatment.”
Wiesner said the system doesn’t seem set up to accommodate someone like him, who can drive himself roughly half the time, depending on how well he’s feeling.
He said he has also been offered on-call rides instead of scheduled pickups, but they have to be booked a week in advance and none appear to be available on his treatment days.
Wiesner estimates he has missed around 10 dialysis appointments over the last year because of the difficulty in arranging rides on days when he isn’t physically up to driving himself and no one else is available.
For Pat Wiesner to drive her husband to his treatments, the couple must find 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.