Assistance to Dialysis

posted Jul 1, 2013, 7:50 AM by Nick C.   [ updated May 12, 2014, 1:29 PM by Josie Maroney ]
Victoria Delaney | April 2013

In March, GetThere received call from a senior Medicare recipient and military veteran living in Candor. The man needed assistance finding transportation to Binghamton three times a week for dialysis. He had not started dialysis yet, but was expecting to begin at his next doctor’s appointment in one week’s time. The call led to a quest for consistent rides from Tioga County to Broome County three times a week. The drive takes an hour each way and each treatment lasts roughly five hours. At the time I did not know if the caller was income eligible for Medicaid and neither did he. The gentleman and I, along with many others, worked for days researching the possibilities for his pending transport. All relevant agencies in Tioga County were contacted including Tioga County Neighbors Helping Neighbors, Tioga Opportunities, Ride Tioga, the Tioga County VA, volunteers, as well as the caller’s friends and neighbors – and the list goes on.
Though each county is unique regarding its transportation options, there is nonetheless one specific way that most counties’ public transit operators are virtually identical; they are incredibly resistant to crossing into each other’s “territories”, that is, crossing county lines. This makes essential medical transportation from rural counties to hospitals in nearby urban centers difficult, if not impossible. It means that, oftentimes, when an individual needs to get from a rural area to a chronic treatment location, they must transfer from one vehicle to another. In many instances, the rider does not feel well enough to do this. This is especially the case when the rider is taking the trip for medical purposes.

In the end, our caller, after having treatment for a month, began driving to his treatments himself. It should be understood though that this may not be the final solution since the caller is aging with frail health. It also turns out that he was not Medicaid eligible.  Right now, efforts are being made to prepare for the time when he no longer feels he can drive and needs to be transported again.