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Journey as important as the destination

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William “Barry” Swann loves a chat and is fond of telling the odd joke.

He also likes to drive and is happy to be behind the wheel of a car for long stretches at a time.

These are qualities that serve Mr Swann well in his role as a driver with Mater Volunteers Patient Transport Service.

The program, which began in 1998, provides a free transport service for Mater identified “in need” patients, taking them to and from the Mater Health Services campus at South Brisbane.

In 2009, due to demand, the program introduced a new car to its fleet and added six new volunteer drivers. The Mater Volunteer Services Patient Transport Program is also the first hospital-based transport service to introduce a new online patient transport booking system to give Mater staff the flexibility of being able to book patient transport 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In this year alone, the program clocked up 2176 patient trips. That translates to 2666 volunteer driver hours and almost 40 000 kilometres of travel.

For a good number of the trips it was Mr Swann behind the wheel. At 63, the former general manager says he has found the perfect way to enjoy a fulfilling retirement.

“I have been driving for a bit over 18 months now and it’s the best thing I have ever done,” Mr Swann said.

“When I finished work I wanted to do something that would keep me occupied and that I’d enjoy as well as provide an opportunity for me to give back to the community,” he said.

“This ticked all the boxes.”

Mr Swann takes his role very seriously.

“I am there to ease what can be a pretty stressful time—whether it is coming in to hospital or going home,” he explained.

“As well as getting the patient safely to their destination, I try to help take their mind off what’s ahead or what they have just been through.

“We have a good chat, have a laugh. They really appreciate it.”

“Organising to get into hospital can be difficult and expensive for a lot of people and with this service we can take away that stress for them.”

“It feels good to be a part of something so worthwhile,” he said.

The Mater Volunteer Services Patient Transport Program couldn’t run without the sponsors Summit Auto Leasing who donate the vehicles to Mater Volunteers Services and Signworld who donate and fit the signage to all the volunteer vehicles.

Barry Swan

 

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