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HomeBuisnessHope Air says the number of people seeking funding for off-island medical...

Hope Air says the number of people seeking funding for off-island medical care has doubled Pi News

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Pi News –

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An organization that helps Prince Edward Island families with the cost of out-of-province medical appointments says demand has skyrocketed.

Hope Air is a national charity that provides financial support for airfare, accommodation and meals. In PEI, it has programs to cover the cost of driving across the Confederation Bridge or taking a seasonal passenger ferry to Nova Scotia.

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“We see a big increase in demand in 2023,” said Mark Rubinstein, who oversees strategy and programs for Hope Air.

“The number of Prince Edward Islanders seeking Hope Air services has increased by more than 100 percent — an incredible increase and an incredible need.”

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According to Rubinstein, the demand may depend on a number of factors.

The rising cost of living is putting financial pressure on families struggling to make ends meet before a parent or child has an unexpected health problem.

Confederate Bridge and Lighthouse on a cool November morning.
The organization added special PEI programs in 2022 to help with bridge or ferry tolls and gas cards. (Shane Hennessy/CBC)

Also, the state of PEI’s health care system has been stressed since the COVID-19 pandemic and the government relies on larger provinces to provide specialized services to its residents.

“The COVID-19 pandemic … has put incredible pressure on our health care system. It has created huge waiting lists for procedures and operations as health care systems try to cope with all the challenges,” Rubinstein said.

You can’t say we have universal healthcare if you don’t actually support patients who have to travel longer distances to get healthcare.– Mark Rubinstein of Hope Air

“Patients will now have more confidence when they go to a doctor’s appointment, see a surgeon, have a procedure, or make a follow-up appointment.”

There are no signs of slowing down

Rubinstein said the organization is grateful for donations and grants, as well as support from the provincial government, especially since he doesn’t see it slowing down anytime soon.

“You can’t say we have universal health care if you don’t support patients who have to travel longer distances to get health care,” he said.

“The system won’t work if patients don’t have access to care in the first part of this phase.”

To participate in the programs, Rubinstein said, a person must travel for treatment covered by Health PEI, have a pre-scheduled appointment in a designated province and have financial need.

“We do not believe that there is a single formula that adequately covers all situations, and therefore we consider each application on its own merits,” he said.

“This system has worked well for patients and Hope Air.”

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