Kootenay East MLA Tom Shypitka was talking up Angel Flight East Kootenay in Victoria this week. (Image: B.C. Legislature)

Shypitka praises RDEK support for Angel Flight

The Kootenay East MLA has long been highlighting issues with healthcare access for East Kootenay residents

Local MLA Tom Shypitka was name-dropping Angel Flight East Kootenay in the B.C. Legislature this morning.

Speaking on Thursday, Shypitka talked up efforts by Angel Flight East Kootenay to connect patients to health care in Kelowna that they’d otherwise have to drive for hours to get.

“As I’ve stated in this house in number occasions, access to healthcare in my riding of Kootenay East is difficult to say the least – at one time a two-to-three hour drive to Alberta has been eliminated as an option, and now impractical options are to find your way over several mountain passes and 11 to 13 hour drive times if you’re lucky,” he said.

“In identifying a gap in services, Angel Flight has now grown from Kootenay East to Nelson, Creston and Invermere areas.”

Shypitka lauded the vote by RDEK to support Angel Flight through a $500,000, five-year funding arrangement that would allow the organization to eventually purchase a new, more capable airplane that would increase the reliability and safety of the service.

“That said, Kootenay East and other jurisdictions like Columbia River-Revelstoke still have a mountain to climb on getting access to healthcare without financial and geographical barriers. We need to do better to assure our citizens they will not be forgotten in their greatest time of need.”

Angel Flight East Kootenay has helped over 120 East Kootenay residents access healthcare since it was first founded a year ago. The service allows those with urgent (but not emergency) health needs access healthcare in Kelowna without having to drive over multiple mountain passes year-round.

READ MORE: Angel Flight secures RDEK funding for next five years

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