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VOL. 42 | NO. 39 | Friday, September 28, 2018

Private sector advances

By Joe Morris

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The private sector has seen the need for ramped-up senior transportation options and is engaging at the national, regional and local levels.

For instance, Uber has introduced Uber Health, a subset of its platform that will let health care providers and organizations order rides for patients to and from a health care location. According to Uber, it will allow for advance scheduling, access for patients who do not have smartphones since it’s text-based, and it will be HIPAA compliant.

More localized efforts likely will look like what’s being done by Caregivers by WholeCare, a non-medical home health company in Nashville that already offers a wide range of care services.

The company has recently launched WholeCare Transportation Services, which provides wheelchair accessible van service, car service and caregiver escort throughout the entire trip. The customizable service seemed like a natural expression of what the company already provided, says Elizabeth Moss, founder and chief care officer.

“We’ve been in business for 21 years, and as time has progressed we began seeing transportation as a major gap in care,” Moss says. “It’s the No. 1 needed service for seniors and addresses the issues not just of getting to the doctor and health care issues, but also isolation and loneliness.

“It helps health care providers, too, because the responsibility for decreasing readmissions to the hospital is on them, and if people aren’t making their follow-up doctors’ appointments, they aren’t getting the care they need and often will have to go back into the hospital.”

The company engages with clients to review medical-care schedules for follow-up visits, but also engages with clients and families so if an unexpected trip to the ER is needed for a non-emergency situation, there’s no need for an expensive ambulance ride.

The service gives rides to about 1,000 people in Middle Tennessee, from a one-way trip to a regular three times per week schedule for dialysis visits. And it’s not just medical trips, but also beauty parlor runs, grocery shopping and social outings.

“The clients are so pleased, and their families are grateful because they don’t have to take time off work and know their loved one is being properly cared for because our staff has been carefully vetted,” Moss says.

“Our challenge now is to be able to staff up to meet the need. We want to hire people who are willing to drive a lot, who love helping people and who can pass our background checks. We also are looking at an additional van, so we can provide more than one wheelchair-using client at a time.

“It’s a service that we are so happy to offer, and that has been so well accepted. There’s definitively a need for more.”

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