Currently, the AODA does not have a healthcare standard. A committee is making recommendations about what a healthcare standard should include. In the meantime, however, there are still AODA requirements for healthcare providers to follow. The Transportation Standards have regulations that apply to healthcare providers. Healthcare transportation services make medical services more accessible to patients, workers, and visitors with disabilities.
Healthcare Transportation Services
Several sections of the Transportation Standards apply to healthcare providers. Public hospitals that transport patients between their campuses must make this service accessible. They may do so by using accessible vehicles when they transport all patients. Alternatively, if they cannot provide integrated service on conventional vehicles, they must have equivalent services on specialized vehicles.
Moreover, all regulations that apply to other conventional and specialized transportation providers also apply to public hospitals that offer these services. For instance, all public hospital transportation services must have:
- AODA training for all transportation workers
- Accessibility plans for conventional and specialized providers
- Systems in place for passengers who travel with support persons
In addition, conventional transportation services of public hospitals must have:
Stronger Transportation Standards in Healthcare are Needed
The Transportation Standards’ mandates concerning healthcare ensure minimal accessibility for patients with disabilities. However, vital healthcare services are still inaccessible to patients. New criteria in the Transportation Standards targeting healthcare settings could benefit both patients and healthcare workers.
While public hospital transportation ensures that patients can travel reliably between hospital campuses, patients must use other modes of transportation for all other healthcare needs. For instance, patients must find their own ways of travelling to:
- Doctor’s appointments
- Walk-in clinics
- Hospital emergency rooms
Some patients can travel to all these places by driving or using conventional public transportation. For example, when someone starts to feel sick suddenly one evening, that person can take the bus to a walk-in clinic. Similarly, if someone’s doctor tells them that they need bloodwork or a prescription, they can take the bus, a cab, or their car to their lab or pharmacy. However, options like driving, cabbing, or taking the bus do not work for everyone. Instead, some patients use specialized transit to travel around their area.
Our next article will explore how stronger transportation standards in healthcare are needed to make medical settings more accessible for patients using specialized transit.