A little more than one year after launching its first free transportation service, Johnson Health Center has given patients 1,600 rides to and from their doctor’s appointments.
What started as a dream in 2016 became a reality when a 15- passenger van was donated to the federally qualified health center in December of that year.
The service picks up patients, mostly in Lynchburg and Madison Heights for now, from home and takes them to their appointments. The free service has been so popular since launching in September of 2017 CEO Gary Campbell wants to expand it into Bedford and Campbell counties.
JHC has clinics on Federal Street in Lynchburg, in Madison Heights on Elon Road, in Bedford on Blue Ridge Avenue and in Rustburg on Village Highway.
In the past year the company as a whole has served more than 22,000 clients in the Lynchburg region, many of whom are uninsured or underinsured.
For many, just getting to the appointment is a struggle, Campbell said.
Though Bedford Ride provides non-emergency medical transportation to Bedford residents over age 18 to Lynchburg, Bedford, Appomattox, Campbell and Amherst counties and sometimes even Salem and Roanoke, more transportation services are needed.
Kenneth Young, director of transportation for the Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living, which runs Bedford Ride, said he supports expansion of the JHC program.
“It certainly wouldn’t hurt to have more transportation available,” he said. “We can’t give everyone all the rides they need and we certainly try to cover all the rides coming in.”
This year Bedford Ride has given roughly 1,300 one-way trips, Young said.
“The demand increases every year,” he said.
Bedford Ride has 30 vans in use daily with five paid drivers and 60 volunteer drivers.
“Transportation is one of the big needs to get everyone to their medical appointments,” Young said. “We are always looking for grant money to expand services wherever we can.”
According to Centra Heath’s 2017-2019 Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Plan, transportation and getting to health care appointments was one of the top areas of concerns for those who took the survey.