Long Distance Medical Transportation Program Focusing On Elderly
MANISTIQUE – CBC Sunday is fast approaching and the Long Distance Medical Transportation Program is one of the organizations that will benefit from community donations. Chosen as one of the annual drive’s third charities, the program serves numerous elderly citizens in Schoolcraft County.
According to Manistique Senior Center Director Connie Frenette, the center, along with the Schoolcraft County Commission on Aging, administers the program using a grant from UPCAP (Upper Peninsula Commission for Area Progress). For the 2012-13 year, which runs from Oct. 2012 to Sept. 2013, the funding totals $5,139. In addition to the grant, clients are also requested to make donations to the program, though it is not required.
Frenette explains she wrote a letter to the CBC board in 2012, requesting selection as the drive’s third “C”, which stands for Community Charities. The other “C” and “B” stand for the American Cancer Society and Bay Cliff Health Camp.
“I was stunned when it (the program) got selected,” she said. “It’s a big help to this program.”
In a 2009 “needs survey” conducted by UPCAAA (Upper Peninsula Area Agency on Aging), Frenette said seniors indicated the most needed service was transportation. The transportation program is working to address this need.
“It’s a well, well used program,” she said.
Rides are given to Schoolcraft County senior citizens 60 or older who are unable to drive themselves or obtain the service from other entities or organizations. In general, Frenette said they try to keep trips within a 200-mile radius, though exceptions could be made for those in need.
The program’s drivers are entirely volunteer, reimbursed only for mileage.
“The volunteers … should be acknowledged, they have put hours and hours into this,” she said. “These are dedicated people, they’ve been absolutely wonderful.”
According to Frenette, volunteers logged 20,808 miles in 2012, and donated 65,950 hours since the program’s inception. Currently, the program boasts eight volunteer drivers.
Any senior needing transportation to a doctor, eye or other medical appointment can utilize the service, explained Frenette, though she does suggest checking to see if the rider qualifies for another type of program.
“We try not to take them in the place of another program they qualify for,” she said. “We try not to duplicate services.”
Being selected as one of the two community charities will greatly benefit the program, Frenette said, additional funding will allow the program to serve more clients.
“It would help us provide more service and make it through the year,” she said. “We’re the only senior center that I know of that the program has taken off. The other ones had to back away because they couldn’t get the volunteers to do the program.
That says a lot for our county,” she continued. “We’ve got a lot of awesome people in our area.”