Second-year UBC medical students increase healthcare access

Hope Air receives donation of $9,293 to provide 40 flights to get low-income families to healthcare

L- R Sherry Hu - UBC

L- R Sherry Hu - UBC

VANCOUVER, BC – “Getting to the medical care you need shouldn’t require days off work, high travel costs, or large amounts of stress,” says second-year medical student Sherry Hu. Sherry is also the president of the Class of 2015 of University of British Columbia medical school. Her class raised $9,292.92 in support of rural medicine and, for the first time ever, decided to donate the entire proceeds to a single charity – and that charity is Hope Air!

Hope Air is a nation-wide charity that arranges free flights to get low-income Canadians to specialized healthcare that does not exist in their local community. Hope Air serves people of all ages, with all illnesses, from all across Canada. Last year, Hope Air provided 6,091 free flights across Canada, with 70 per cent of the flights occurring in BC.

Thomas Luo, one of the two students who, separately but simultaneously, recommended Hope Air for the donation, says “I nominated Hope Air because our expansive geography and low population density outside of the Lower Mainland is a common problem for all public services to communities across Canada. For healthcare, there is no practical way to bring many specialized services to all the residents in smaller communities. Timely and affordable travel is a prerequisite for those people to access proper care.”

The medical students have donated $9,292.92 to provide free flights in British Columbia. The donation translates to almost 40 flights for individuals who must travel to healthcare.

“The more we learned about Hope Air and the services it provides to get people to the care they need, the more we wanted to support their work,” says Sherry Hu.

Leslie Louie, Donor Relations Officer with Hope Air, accepted the gift from the students at a special presentation in early in May. At the cheque presentation, Leslie thanked the students and told them, “Living in the Metro Vancouver Area, it is easy to take for granted our access to world-class healthcare. Yet for many families in northern and interior BC areas, as well as on Vancouver Island, accessing such care is a huge challenge. Cost and distance are formidable barriers and add enormous financial, physical and emotional stress to individuals already dealing with serious health issues. Your support has guaranteed access to healthcare for many living throughout BC.”

Each year, the first and second year students raise money for rural medicine.  This year the Class of 2015 voted to determine Hope Air as their “charity of choice”.  The proceeds were raised through social activities and fundraising endeavours. The funds are typically divided amongst the entire class and distributed to support rural medicine. However, this year medical student Thomas Luo both proposed that they pool their resources and make a greater impact. Vivian Leung and Thomas Luo, after a little internet research, both independently proposed that the combined donation go to Hope Air, and their fellow students were overwhelmingly supportive of doing this.

Both Hope Air and the Class of 2015 hope that future classes will consider this type of donation, yet everyone is very pleased at the increased profile Hope Air now has with the future physicians of British Columbia.

“Many will do residencies throughout the province and some will end up serving these communities,” says Leslie Louie. “Having a knowledge of the kind of flights services Hope Air provides can help them get their future patients to the medical care they need.”

You too can help Hope Air to provide flights: visit or call 1-877-346-4673.