Access to transportation has been identified as a major concern for families seeking medical care for their families in the Mahoning Valley. One local organization recognized and addressed this need with a recent gift.
Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley received $250,000 from Ronald McDonald House Charities of Mahoning Valley and Western PA (now named Ronald McDonald House Charities of Northeast Ohio). These funds will make it easier and more convenient for families in-need in Mahoning, Trumbull, Columbiana, Mercer and Lawrence counties to care for their children.
“Many families don’t have a vehicle, or they only have one and it’s in disrepair,” said Mary Missos MSSA, LISW-S, social work supervisor. “If their appointment is in Akron, asking them to drive an hour away for a family with limited means is already a hardship.”
Addressing a 40% no-show rate of missed appointments
Missos said non-compliance with medical appointments, with up to a 40 percent no-show rate in some areas, can be a significant factor in a child’s overall health and wellness.
“We’ll get calls about missed appointments, and transportation is given as one of the most common reasons they have a barrier,” Missos said. “For some families they’re forced to choose between medical care or basics such as food and clothing.”
Before the grant, the option for families in this situation was through managed care. While well-intended, it can be inconvenient and a logistical challenge because it involved calling insurance to pre-schedule rides, Missos said.
“We know that in healthcare there are unexpected and short notice situations that arise, so it’s wasn’t always a practical solution,” Missos said. “Now they can just let us know there’s a need and we’ll arrange it.”
Improving the patient experience
Hospital administrators are optimistic funds will improve the patient experience.
“This transportation grant will improve access to care in high-risk patient populations and reduce health care disparities,” said Lisa Taafe, Clinical Administrative Director, Akron Children’s Hospital Mahoning Valley. “We serve a total Medicaid population of about 60 percent, so this gift could be transformational in ensuring they can make it to and from appointments.”
The expanded transportation program will involve collaboration with local taxi services, WRTA buses and a national ride-sharing service. Additionally, gas cards will be made available to families in need who have a vehicle or an offer from a friend or relative to drive them, but need help with gas money.
“We anticipate assisting about 2,500 families with transportation needs using these funds,” Taafe said.
To learn more, please contact Charlotte Diss, development coordinator, at email@example.com.