Photo: Ellie Lane, Jeanette Beauglehole-Volunteers and Ceri Oxford-Transport Coordinator
Monday, 14 May 2018
It doesn’t matter if you like driving long distances or prefer to stick to local roads, Portland District Health wants good drivers to boost its community transport program.

PDH hopes to attract at least four new volunteer drivers to take local people to appointments.

There are about 15 volunteers on the books at this time, but more would help to spread the workload and ensure that growing demand is being met.

The service, in a hospital-provided car, is hugely beneficial to local people who may not otherwise have a way to get to appointments and it’s also enjoyable for volunteers.

Ellie Lane has been involved with patient transport for about 30 years, mostly taking patients to Melbourne and Geelong. I like the driving and I enjoy people, she said.

They've usually got a story to tell.

Jeanette Beauglehole, another community volunteer who joined more recently, drives people mainly to Warrnambool and from their homes to PDH or other medical appointments.

I've had some great conversations, she said. It's really amazing to hear the experiences of those people and you develop a nice connection with them.”

Patients are driven to a variety of medical appointments when they have no other transport options, including many needing cancer treatments in Melbourne.

There are lots of reasons why people can't go to appointments on their own so it's great that there's a service to help them, Mrs Beauglehole said.

PDH community transport coordinator Ceri Oxford said more drivers were needed to ensure the workload could be spread.


We don't want to tire drivers by getting them to do too many shifts and we need to cover when people are on holidays or unavailable for any reason, Ms Oxford said.

There's a lot of need for this service; every morning I have messages for people seeking assistance, she added.

The PDH community transport car is available for people as a back-up to the Red Cross transport service.

Potential volunteers can contact Carolyn Millard at PDH on 55 210333 and ask about the community transport program. They will need to be licensed and with a good driving record, undergo a police check and be a good communicator.

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