Northwest Health Services, a federally-qualified health center, whose administrative offices are located in St. Joseph, Missouri, launched HealthTran in May 2018. For 35 years Northwest Health has been inspired by the belief that ALL people regardless of insurance status have access to affordable healthcare. In the first four weeks of usage, 86 rides have been scheduled, with 10 additional trips scheduled to be provided within 30 days. These rides are non-Medicaid covered trips for patients that would not otherwise have been able to get to their doctor without assistance. HealthTran is receiving two-four ride requests per day from Northwest Health, with ridership growing quickly. More drivers are being recruited and trained to address need, with plans for three /training sessions scheduled by the end of June 2018.
This is what Northwest Health has to say about their experience with HealthTran.
"After scheduling the first couple of rides, the portal became a breeze. It’s easy to follow along and they always let you know what’s going on with the drivers and if there are problems very quickly!
I have talked to a few people and they love the rides, the drivers are friendly and they love that we offer this service now. It really helps the patients not have to miss their appointments."
- Ryan S., Northwest Health
Jenn Lukins has been a Web Writer for the Rural Health Information Hub since 2015, writing on topics that include health networks, maternal and child health, healthy lifestyles, and more. She published an article in RHI Hub in January 2016 with several HealthTran testimonials. Read more.
Veteran Riders - 2015
WEST PLAINS, 12 Miles Out
Mrs. R contacted HealthTran in June 2015 and stated her husband had been referred to HealthTran from the VA Transportation Coordinator in Poplar Bluff. Mr. R had appointment with Ozarks Medical Center Urology Clinic in West Plains, Missouri. The VA van was committed to bringing veterans to Poplar Bluff on that day and could not provide Mr. R with transportation to West Plains.
Mr. R was able to obtain a new VA Medical Card for those living over 40 miles from the nearest VA Specialty Center, but the VA could not provide transportation for his appointment. Mr. R had blood in his urine and a family history of prostate cancer. They had waited for this appointment for some time and it would take weeks to get another. Due to the seriousness of the issue, HealthTran provided transportation.
Mrs. R explained they live approximately 12 miles outside of West Plains and had no vehicle of their own. They hire a taxi, once a month, to bring them to West Plains to do their shopping. They were not aware of public transit services available in the area. The HealthTran coordinator shared the public transit schedule for their area, the extra stop that might be available and gave them the phone number of the Southeast Missouri Transit Services driver for their area.
Mr. R is low-income and has multiple health issues. Per Mrs. R, “we basically live as loners”. She stated, “HealthTran is a God-send. You people are angels. You have no idea what this means to us. We are so grateful for the help. Thanks to each of you.”
GAINESVILLE TO WEST PLAINS VS BRANSON
A veteran needed transportation from Ozarks Medical Center (OMC) Orthopedic Clinic and Wound Care (numerous trips). He was traveling from Gainesville, Missouri (Ozark County), 40 miles away. He is assigned to a VA Clinic in Branson, Missouri (Taney County), 70 miles one way and unable to make the trip on the OATS public transit vehicle. He is brought into the OMC Specialty Clinics by South Howell Transport, one of HealthTran’s transportation providers, due to an open wound at the request of the doctor. He needs to have VA approval to be seen at OMC Heart Care. He states he is eligible for VA transportation but has not been given any help to arrange it and is medically unable to drive himself. He has no individual available to provide or make the transportation for him, or for that person to be reimbursed by VA.
MAMMOTH SPRINGS, AK
A veteran rider needs to get to OMC Neuro-Surgery Specialty Clinic from Mammoth Springs, AK (40 miles one way). The rider lives 8-9 miles outside of Mammoth Springs, AR. HealthTran was contacted by the Poplar Bluff VA Transportation Coordinator to solicit HealthTran’s assistance. The rider was brought to OMC for testing (overnight stay) and then was transported to OMC Neuro-Surgery Specialty Clinic for a physician consult and returned home. This veteran rider received approval through the VA to have back surgery at OMC in West Plains but is unable to drive due to his physical condition. His license was withheld by the State of Arkansas until his surgery was completed and he regained his health.
MT VERNON VA HOSPITAL & CLINIC 100 MILES ONE WAY
A veteran rider needed to get to Mt. Vernon VA Hospital/Clinic for eye care, in January 2015. The trip was over 100 miles one way from his home in Cabool. He is 84 years old and lives in senior housing in Cabool. He had lost one eye already to failed cataract surgery and was being treated for the remaining eye to maintain vision. He was unable to drive that distance and his son was no longer able to transport him due to risk of losing his job from frequent absences. The rider had been reimbursed mileage in the past from the VA for transportation, but the last trip provided by his son was not paid with no explanation. This veteran did not have funds to hire someone to take him without VA reimbursement. Since he moved to Cabool, to be near his son and other support, he had no-one available to hire. He contacted the local DAV and VFW and was unable to receive any help. He had been living in Springfield, MO and was able to get some help from the local DAV. He wants to be assigned to physicians closer to his home. HealthTran provided the ride and allowed pick-up of needed prescriptions, which took over one hour to be filled.
The Veteran stated he has worked most of his life, receives VA and Social Security, but did not realize he has Medicare A. The HealthTran Coordinator explained that he may also be eligible for Medicare B and D plans.
“A rural community depends so much on transportation that it needs to be a focus,” veteran Bob Bowen said. “Once they have that service, everything else will fall into place.”