HSE and Irish Wheelchair Association join forces to bring new community-based testing service for COVID-19 to vulnerable adults
The HSE and Irish Wheelchair Association have joined forces to bring a new community-based testing service for COVID-19 to vulnerable adults using Irish Wheelchair Association’s fleet of buses. The new service will transport COVID-19 testing personnel to vulnerable people who are unable to attend test centres, including people with disabilities and older people, to carry out testing for COVID-19. Irish Wheelchair Association has a network of 117 buses nationwide. This service will be of particular support to people living in rural and isolated areas of the country.
Under the new service, Irish Wheelchair Association will provide a driver and bus to ensure that vulnerable people within local communities requiring a COVID-19 test can be visited by HSE testing personnel. The Irish Wheelchair Association bus will collect the testers, transport them to the location of the person to be tested, and return them to an agreed location after testing, where samples can be sent to identified laboratories. HSE requirements around infection control and use of PPE will be applied throughout.
Paul Reid, Chief Executive Officer of the HSE said:
I want to thank Irish Wheelchair Association and their staff for providing this vital service to the HSE. While we have made great progress and scaled up in a way the health service has never done before, this transport initiative ensures that we are meeting the needs of vulnerable people.
Rosemary Keogh, Chief Executive Officer of Irish Wheelchair Association said:
Supporting the needs of people, who may find themselves vulnerable at this concerning time, is critical. Irish Wheelchair Association has a network of accessible buses throughout the country and our staff are at the frontline working hard to support people with physical disabilities. This new transport partnership will expand our service to support the HSE in delivering vital community-based testing so that people who may have COVID-19 can easily access a test.
As an organisation at the heart of many communities across the country, we are pleased to be able to contribute our buses at a local level to the COVID-19 response and to help alleviate the concerns of anyone who is cocooned and worried about their health. We are all in this together.
Dr Cathal Morgan, Head of Disability Operations, HSE said:
The IWA’s co-operation and ‘can do’ attitude in terms adapting services to meet the needs of vulnerable people during this public health emergency, is further testimony of the disability sector’s truly inspirational efforts in co-operation and collaboration across the state.
Chris Hoey, Chief Operations Officer of Irish Wheelchair Association said:
Irish Wheelchair Association’s buses visit some of the most rural settings in Ireland, with staff who have a detailed knowledge of rural road networks across communities.
Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, we have continued to deliver essential services to people with disabilities, adapting our existing services to ensure we continue to be there for those who need us most. We are already providing vital lifelines to people’s homes, such as assisted living, delivering food and prescriptions and providing social support. This new testing service will be an extension of this in partnership with the HSE.
We are committed to responding to the global spread of COVID-19 and are incredibly grateful to our frontline staff who are among the many healthcare workers going beyond the call of duty to keep people safe and well. This new service places vulnerable people at the heart of this response by making sure that this potentially life-saving test can be brought to them.