Mackenzie Place residents have a sweet new ride. The continuing care centre has been gifted a new bus, through Seven Generations Energy’s donations to the Grande Prairie Regional Hospital Foundation.

The bus is custom-made and fully accessible, with extra safety features for seniors. Senior Operating Officer for the QEII Hospital Stacy Greening says it gives them more independence and freedom.

“I think it helps them re-engage with the broader community. Oftentimes too it will give them an outing that they are not dependent on their family for, so it gives them something to talk about when grandchildren come to visit or their loved ones.”

So far, the bus has been used to take groups for lawn bowling in Muskoseepi Park and to see seeding in the rural areas. Resident Jean Christopherson has reduced mobility and says it’s exciting for residents to get out of the building.

“My family is able to visit me and take me on day trips but some of my friends here don’t have family to take them out. The bus will give them a chance to get out and enjoy being outside, to enjoy the countryside.”

In addition to the service provided by the Disabled Transportation Society of Grande Prairie, a bus has previously been available to Mackenzie Place residents, but Greening says it was old and needed to be replaced. Director of community engagement at 7G and hospital foundation board member Cindy Park says the new vehicle can also be used to take pediatric patients on trips.

“The hospital is an amazing opportunity for the community to support… Certainly, the hospital is something that everyone in this community and region will need, so we’re happy to support that.”

With a price tag of more than $90,000, the bus is the first major purchase from the more than $1.7 million raised by Seven Generations Energy for the hospital foundation through its annual golf tournament. Foundation Senior Development Officer Dawn Miller says they’re grateful for the partnership.

“This is a prime example of community working together with us and with AHS. AHS is moving away from a model of illness to a model of wellness and that includes seniors as well… this is a wellness factor that will help them.”

Roughly 100 residents will benefit, along with patients in the adult day program, and waiting patients in acute care, mental health, and pediatrics.