Doris Boeckman, MRHA Rides to Wellness Director, and Mary Gordon, HealthTran Program Manager, attended a transportation meeting on April 7, 2016, hosted by Camden County Developmental Disabilities Resources (CCDDR). The purpose of the meeting was to discuss transportation issues in Camden County, specifically as they relate to accessing services by individuals with developmental disabilities (DD) and other vulnerable populations. The meeting was attended by more than 45 individuals, all of whom expressed grave concerns about transportation challenges as they relate to accessing employment and other necessary services, including healthcare. The DD system delivery dollars for transportation in 2015 for Camden County alone exceeded $318,340, nearly 20 percent of CCDDR’s budget.
Edmond J. Thomas, CCDDR, presented on the state of transportation in Camden County. The challenge for CCDDR is that most of their consumers are located in rural, often isolated, areas of the county, driving up the cost of transportation.
Deana Dothage (in photo), Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, provided a presentation on Mo RIDES, a transportation referral service in Missouri. Mo RIDES provides assistance in linking individuals in need of transportation services to companies and services that can provide the trip. The referral service is free, but the cost of the transportation is the responsibility of the rider. Although more than 70% of rides are completed, for those that aren’t, cost is the primary prohibiting factor.
Prior to the meeting closing, Doris Boeckman remarked, “This group is to be applauded for its efforts to address transportation barriers to employment, but as a group, please think broader to include access to healthcare issues. Transportation barriers to care drive up healthcare costs, which in turn drive up total delivery system costs.” She shared that efforts to address transportation challenges are underway in other areas of the state, and informed attendees that the Missouri Rural Health Association has made Missouri’s Rides to Wellness a priority. Rides to Wellness is an effort to reduce transportation barriers to healthcare through public/private partnerships and community networks, not unlike that of the group convened on April 7. Ms. Boeckman informed attendees that Toniann Richard, Board Chair, and Suzanne Alewine, Executive Director, Missouri Rural Health Association, will be presenting to the Missouri Highway and Transportation Commission on rural transportation challenges at the May 2016 Commission meeting.
Following the meeting, a task force of nearly 20 individuals was formed to continue to tackle the issue of transportation. To learn more, contact CCDDR 5816 Osage Beach Pkwy, Suite 106, Osage Beach, MO 65065 or call 573-693-1511.