Many of us know that there is a Northern Health Connections bus on Thursdays from Valemount through Blue River, Clearwater and Barriere to Kamloops, but did you know there also is a bus from Kamloops to Vancouver?
For the Kamloops to Vancouver run, which is on Tuesdays, the Northern Health Connections bus actually starts from Prince George at 8 a.m., stopping in Quesnel at 9:45 a.m., Williams Lake at 11:05 a.m., Lac La Hache at 12 noon, 100 Mile House at 12:30 p.m., Cache Creek at 1:30 p.m., Kamloops (at Royal Inland Hospital), at 3:35 p.m., Chilliwack (at the Husky), at 6:15 p.m., Abbotsford at 7:15 p.m., and finally arrives in Vancouver (at the Quality Inn) at 8:30 p.m.
Then on Thursdays, it reverses, starting at the Quality Inn in Vancouver at 8 a.m., and arriving in Kamloops at the Royal Inland Hospital at 1 p.m., and back to Prince George by 8:30 p.m.
Stops are made to pick up and drop off passengers along the way, as well as periodic rest stops and meal breaks.
Passengers traveling on NH Connections will be charged a nominal fee. Fees are based on the number of zones traveled in each direction. Return fares range from $20 for short trips to $80 for the longest trips (the actual cost of travel is 80 – 90 per cent subsidized by Northern Health). There are no taxes or fees on any NH Connections fares. For instance, the charge from Kamloops to Vancouver is $20 one-way, or $40 round trip.
There are several things you need to be aware of, if your physician has referred you for medical services outside your home community.
• When your appointment is being made, make sure the MOA or booking clerk knows you want to take NH Connections, and that your appointment needs to be on a particular weekday. Once the appointment has been made make sure to record all information about where and when to go.
• Only after you have arranged your medical appointment should you book your seat on NH Connections.
• Call the reservation line at 1-888-647-4997 to book your seat. Please have all relevant information ready. This includes: your name, address, phone number, emergency contact number, Care Card number and information on the appointment you are attending (name of health care professional, date and time of the appointment, contact phone number). If a companion is traveling with you, please book his or her seat at the same time.
• Once you have reserved your seat you will be provided with information on where and when you will be picked up and the cost of your ticket.
• On the bus you will be asked to complete an Appointment Verification Form with most of the same basic information you provided when you spoke to the booking agent. You will need to take this form with you to your medical appointment. NH Connections is only for patients who need health care services outside of their home community. As a result Northern Health needs to confirm that patients attended their appointments and that people are using the service appropriately. If you need transportation for any other reason, commercial transportation services are available.
• After attending your appointment, please have the form signed and stamped at the medical office by the doctor or the MOA (one copy of the signed form is retained at the medical office). When you board the bus for the return trip, provide the original, signed form to the driver, who will retain the original copy of the form. The driver collects copies from all patients on behalf of NH Connections. The third copy is for your records. Please note that these instructions can also be found on the reverse side of the form.
Yellowhead Community Services also operates a social bus from Vavenby to Kamloops on Thursdays. No medical appointment is necessary to use this service, which costs $15 return from Vavenby and Clearwater, and $10 from Little Fort on.