Do You Need A Ride?

Southern Missouri Community Health Center and Ozark Medical Clinics located in West Plains and in clinics located in Thayer are seeing the benefits of public transit.  Beginning the referral process July 2014 with SMTS and Ozarks Medical Centers in-patient release programs HealthTran has been in a learning curve.  Adjusting the referral process, learning the ropes, and building communication, HealthTran is ready to expand both inside and outside of West Plains to more health partners and locations in Texas, Howell, and Oregon Counties.  By the end of the year, Missouri Ozarks Community Health will be sending referrals for the Cabool clinic and Ozarks Medical Clinics in Alton, Mountain Grove, Mountain View, and Willow Springs.  Clinic staff will be asking patients “Do you need a ride?” 

With communities hearing about the benefits and services of HealthTran in getting to health services, more referrals are coming in and additional transit options are needed.  The West Plains Transit System (WPTS), the newest partner of HealthTran came on board to provide transportation to the citizens of West Plains starting in September for those who need a ride to medical appointments within city limits of West Plains.

WPTS is a member of the Missouri Public Transit Association and learned about HealthTran during a visit earlier this summer.  During the visit, HealthTran staff was excited to learn just what WPTS had to offer and WPTS, Transit Manager, Mike Falwell could see the benefits of working together.  “There was a lot of misinformation and lack of understanding on just what services WPTS offered at that first meeting.  After talking with Mike and his staff, we felt positive about working together to provide rides for preventative care, dental, follow up visits, and other health related needs.” says Mary Gordon, HealthTran Project Manager. “We are very pleased to have Mike Falwell and West Plains Transit System Get Link’d to HealthTran.”   

HealthTran visited Licking Bridge Builders, LLC an MPTA member who provides Texas County citizens in Licking and the surrounding towns’ transportation with everything from local visits to the Senior Center to long-distance rides to the VA in Columbia.  During the September 29 visit, HealthTran met with Cindy Wampner, Transportation Co-Chair and knew right away LBB would make a great asset to riders with a health need.  Mrs. Wampner and her staff are fully onboard to meet the needs of local citizens.  “Were just waiting to begin the Cabool clinic referrals and start the referral process with Cindy and her staff” stated Mary Gordon, HealthTran Project Manager.

A new MPTA member, South Howell Medical Transports, located in West Plains, provides non-emergency medical transportation to West Plains and surrounding communities.  The service offers transports with ambulatory, wheelchair, and stretcher needs as well as some other special needs.  With a service open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and all holidays, the new member is able to fill a gap in services.  A department of South Howell County EMS, Jim McGee, Administrator, runs an impressive operation.  Mr. McGee and his staff are developing a training room dedicated to improving the quality of service with dusk to dawn lighting, fog option, special scene set-ups, and video capability to view the action scenario for critiquing staff actions.  HealthTran thanks SHMT staff for the warm welcome and wonderful tour.

HealthTran Coordinator, Sandra Morris, takes the time to understand the needs and barriers of the HT riders and works both sides of health and transit to arrange rides that meet the patient’s needs.  Over the past three months, during direct assessments, she is discovering the hidden barriers that rural residents face with transportation.  Mrs. Morris is working to bridge gaps and bring awareness to her community of the great opportunity to Get Link’d to HealthTran.