Providing Transportation for Those in Need
Helping to provide transportation to nonemergent medical appointments for those truly in need!
The Volunteer Transportation Center improves health and wellness for the community by ensuring those with no other means of transportation are able to keep medical and dental appointments, receive life-supporting treatments, such as chemotherapy and renal dialysis, and go grocery shopping. Volunteer drivers provide rides to non-emergency medical trips (doctors, clinics, hospitals, specialists, pharmacies), food-related trips (grocery stores or food pantries) and visits for loved ones to visit nursing homes. Specific target populations served include: the elderly, persons with disabilities, blind and visually impaired and those with other disabilities. Without a car of one's own, access to both services and amenities is a major challenge. When it comes to health care – the prime destination source for rides provided by our volunteers – this barrier can have potentially devastating consequences. These can be averted by providing both information and services.
Our organization, through the generous donation of time from our volunteer drivers, provides hundreds of thousands of miles of transportation free of charge to the clients we serve. In 2020, our volunteer drivers provided 24,926 charitable trips over 913,921 miles in Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence Counties. Last year, we saw a slight increase in the number of trips offered. That number increased to 26,711. The number of miles for these trips, however, increased even more to 1,073,435. This is the first time our organization has surpassed the 1,000,000 mile mark. This is due to increased need for our services as a result of the pandemic as well as a decrease in available volunteer drivers (also due to the pandemic), meaning our organization would send volunteers from farther away to pick up clients. That increase in mileage means an increase in the mileage reimbursement we provide to our volunteers. The mileage reimbursement issued in 2021 was $477,679 -- 16% more than 2020.
Transportation has been defined as a key social determinant of health by many organizations based in health and human services. The American Hospital Association is one such organization that points to transportation being "fundamental to health communities (http://www.hpoe.org/resources/ahahret-guides/3078). The health of both urban and rural communities (the latter of which we are most known for serving) is only improved with increased access to health care. This means more can be done for preventative measures and access to services for life-sustaining treatment such as chemotherapy and dialysis can be achieved without hesitation in regard to the reliability of transportation. Our volunteer drivers provide rides for clients during all regular operating hours of practices, day or night. That impact can have a lasting impact on the lives of our clients and their families.