First group in Ireland to arrange volunteer drivers
CANCER treatment is often a harrowing experience for many patients, without the added stress of travelling to and from hospital appointments.
Recognising this need in the 1990s, the North Louth Hospice was the first voluntary organisation in the country to offer patients driver accompaniment to their medical treatment.
For over 15 years the foundation has been providing a volunteer driver service for cancer patients in north Louth.
The NLH has a roster of more than 80 drivers who between them carry 800 patients for their appointments every year, many of these being for repeat treatments.
'Patients travelling to Drogheda or Dublin for cancer treatment can be collected from their home by one of our volunteer drivers who will take them to the hospital for treatment, stay with them, and take them home again,' explained NLH chairwoman Maura O'callaghan.
'This is generally regarded as one of our most important services as some of our patients would otherwise be dependent on taxis and public transport.'
She added that the travel to and from hospital is often very tiring for patients who are having regular chemotherapy or radium treatment, and may not be feeling well after their appointments.
The demand for volunteer drivers continues, says Maura, and she appeals for anyone interested in joing the NLH roster to contact the foundation's offices at the Ramparts.
'On some occasions, we have needed up to 18 drivers in one five-day week. Generally, though, drivers will only be asked to do a drive every three to four weeks, so that there isn't any undue burden on any one driver.'
She pointed out that most volunteer drivers find the experience very rewarding – and their efforts are a hugely important contribution to the community, which is often invaluable to patients and their families.
Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer driver with the North Louth Hospice should contact its offices at 042 9328533 or the secretary on 086 0483355