When Cathryn Tiffany heard that a local cab company in the city announced that they had created a flat rate for those who make trips to the Alberta Children's Hospital in Calgary, her heart swelled with pride for her city and for her fellow Airdronians.
"I think it's amazing. Anything that we can do to support family members that are going through hard times, like having sick children speaks to a very positive nature of the people who work for that company," she said. "From a health care worker's perspective: I work on the postpartum unit at Foothills hospital and we're very highly connected with Alberta Children's [hospital] because many mothers have babies that will then go to [the] Children's for a period of time after their birth. So, we see how much the hospital system is able to do for them."
Tiffany's sentiments were echoed on social media by other residents of the city when SOFO Cabs announced on their social media on July 18th that they would be creating a $45 flat rate fee for Airdronians who have to make the trip from Airdrie into Calgary.
"We’ve put our heads together to try to make this trip a bit more affordable for those on lower / fixed income and for those who don’t drive but still need to take their children somewhere they can be cared for. As parents ourselves we understand the impact the last-minute emergency can have on you and if you’re stressing about your finances, it’s not going to help the situation."
Tiffany said that while there are a plethora of organizations that do help parents who have a sick child, she believes there is still not enough support for them.
"Most of these families, one or both of the parents work full-time and there are lots of these families where they only have one or no vehicle. We see that the children that are in the hospital suffer because they're not getting visits regularly from their family," Tiffany said. "It's because finances don't line up with getting a taxi into the city every day or finances don't line up with having two vehicles in that family. So, hearing that there's something that this company is doing to make it a little bit easier on these families; it just brought so much joy and so much pride to being an Airdrie resident."
She estimates that anywhere from 10 to 15 per cent of the patients in her unit are from Airdrie.
A week prior to the cab company announcing plans to help alleviate the financial burden for those who needed to be transported to Calgary, Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre had been forced to temporarily shut down during the weekend of July 8 and work on an amended schedule of shorter hours. SOFO cabs in their post alluded to this fact and speculated that the increase in demand for their services may have been due to the limited availability of Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre.
"We’ve received a lot of calls recently for trips from Airdrie to the Alberta Children's Hospital. We are assuming this has something to do with the current impact on the local urgent care facility. The extended wait times and understaffing are affecting all of us."
Two weeks later, on Thursday, July 21, it was announced that the temporary closures overnight on the weekends will last for another eight weeks. According to Alberta Health Services, Airdrie's Urgent Care Centre will be temporarily closed overnight on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 10 P.M. until 7 A.M. the following mornings starting July 22 for approximately eight weeks due to gaps in physician coverage.
"To think that a city with over 80,000 people that's just half an hour away from a major metropolitan city can't have urgent care Access 24/7, 365 days a year; it's crazy to me," Tiffany said. "But then we also are seeing an uptake in our [Calgary] ERs that I'm assuming probably has something to do with what's happening here [in Airdrie]."
SOFO cabs stated in their post that a typical trip from Airdrie to the Alberta Children's hospital can cost around $65, but they also underlined that because there are very specific bylaw regulations that they must follow, the meter will continue running during the course of a trip.
"In order to be bylaw compliant and not get in any trouble with the city we are technically supposed to be charging the full meter rate. And we will… WE (SOFO Holdings Ltd) will pay the difference. You pay $45.00 and WE pay whatever the difference is. in doing so we are still abiding by the Airdrie Bylaw for pricing regulations."
Tiffany noted that this kind of gesture embodies the spirit of the city.
"I think this cab company is just doing a very good job of showing people who we are as Airdronians."
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