Just getting to the doctor can be a huge barrier to healthcare for some, but a local nonprofit is working to combat this. Care Ring, a Charlotte-based health provider, now offers transportation to their patients.
“Transportation is one of the number one reasons why someone may delay or forgo getting their medical problems addressed because they cannot access transportation,” said Tchernaiva Montgomery, Care Ring’s executive director said.
Care Ring provides essential healthcare –including preventive care, specialty care, nurse home visitation, and community health support — to low-income, under and uninsured Mecklenburg County residents.
Since beginning the service in February, the program has provided 353 rides to health-related appointments through Uber Health.
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Stephanie Malloy, the director of programs at Care Ring, said the organization plans to increase the number of rides offered to 300 per month.
“[Tranportation is] for appointments that may be medical in nature; that could be primary care, specialty care, pediatrics, prenatal appointments,” Montgomery said.
So far, Montgomery says the service has been impactful. For example, she said sharing this information with women in maternal-child programs who have utilized the service has been more consistent with their OBGYN appointments.
Any Care Ring client is eligible for transportation if needed. The program can also provide rides to access food services, job interviews and pharmacies.
Care Ring received a $200,000 grant from the Health Access Fund of the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), a financial institution that supports community development initiatives, to offer transportation to its patients.
Rides are booked through the Uber Health platform by Care Ring staff on behalf of the patient.
The patient receives a text and phone call to confirm the ride, then, once the driver is en route, a message containing a link to track. Montgomery said the overall goal is to increase economic mobility for Care Ring patients, most of whom are people -of -color who are impacted by health barriers at disproportional rates.
Montgomery told QCity Metro the organization wants to “support health equity.”
“We’re going to do that by addressing the transportation barriers that people have when trying to access services,” Montgomery said.