KAYSVILLE — More senior citizens are taking advantage of the county’s Medical Transportation service – but improvements are planned, including getting the word out to a greater number of potential users.
Some 455 rides had been provided as of April, an increase of 25 percent, said Senior Services Division Director Kristy Cottrell. She added that many seniors don’t know of the service, and getting a ride arranged also can be difficult.
“If a senior has a medical appointment and wants a ride to the doctor, he or she has to call the three different senior activity centers,” she said.
That’s because the driver often is away from the phone, taking seniors to their appointments.
An additional part-time driver has been hired, but better coordination would make it easier for seniors to navigate the system, Cottrell said.
The highest use of the service is in the Bountiful area, which has the highest percentage of seniors in the county, she said.
A pilot program was due to start the week of June 9 where drivers based at the North Davis Senior Activity Center in Clearfield transport seniors to medical appointments. That’s possible from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. after they’ve picked up seniors and taken them to the center for lunch and other activities.
“We need to look at collaboration with independent living centers and others who do medical transportation,” Cottrell said. That could help eliminate having a driver transport one driver in a van, which isn’t cost-effective.
Participating seniors are asked to contribute $2.50 each way, she said. Currently, transportation is only available to medical appointments within the county. That makes it hard for many who have physicians in Salt Lake or Weber Counties, including veterans needing to access the Veterans Administration Hospital in Salt Lake.
“Our greatest demand is for taking seniors to dialysis appointments,” Cottrell said.
“Maybe we could take five or six people instead of one in a van through scheduling,” said Larry Millward, chair of the Davis County Senior Services Advisory Board.
A grant is being sought, now handled by UTA, which “has a goal to improve services for seniors and the disabled,” Cottrell said.
“It’s a challenge to get seniors to the DATC for the dental program,” said board member Lorna Koci. In that program, dentists and other staff donate time to provide services for low income people, including seniors, on a weekly basis.
“We’d like to be able to do that,” she said, noting the schedule is coordinated by the Bountiful Community Food Pantry, of which she is executive director.
Participants could possibly be connected to a car pool or be referred to a dentist near their home, Koci said.
In transportatation-related business, Cottrell said it’s hoped senior buses approved in a 2012 grant will be delivered to Davis County by year’s end.