Some Wheel-Trans patients to be booted off the bus in 2013

Close to 300 dialysis patients in Toronto will need to find alternate transport to the hospital in 2013. (Photo by Jiyoon Ellie Kim)

Toronto dialysis patients won’t be ringing in the new year on TTC’s Wheel-Trans service.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) voted on Sept. 27 to end service for ambulatory dialysis patients starting in 2013.

About 250 patients will be affected by the service reduction, according to the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC LHIN).

The Kidney Foundation of Ontario’sgovernment relations advisor Janet Bick said ambulatory patients are those who can walk without mobility device such as a cane, wheelchair or walker.

“The province and the LHINs will need to absorb any cost associated with the transportation of individuals who need it,” TC LHIN communications consultant Sharon Navarro said.

Navarro explained that community members, volunteer agencies, and the TTC sustain the current service system. After the reduction, only some will be able to arrange an alternative transportation with help from family and friends, while no solution has been found for the rest.

She added the LHIN plans to work with hospitals and volunteer agencies to ensure transit to the hospital.

A TTC report released at Sept. 27 meeting noted that money saved will be used to develop more sustainable transportation model for those who are still eligible.

The Kidney Foundation of Ontario, in a flyer distributed around dialysis units in hospitals, said that the ambulatory patients need to make their voices heard if they want to maintain their eligibility.

“Regardless of age, co-morbidities or functional status these patients can suffer from overwhelming, crippling fatigue before and after their dialysis treatments,” the flyer noted. “The treatment itself often leaves patients disoriented and feeling weak and nauseated.”

The TTC spokesperson Brad Ross said the commission will send a letter to the ambulatory patients in the mid-October.

“New eligibility criteria will be notified [and] if they are not [eligible], what their options are,” he said.