When it comes to access to health care, being able to get to your appointment to see your doctor is as important as the doctor’s visit itself.
For many people in Stockton, medical transportation could be a challenge that prevents them from access to the healthcare they need.
Thanks to a partnership between El Concilio and the Abbott Fund, a new program will help connect people with care through transportation.
The non-emergency Medical Transportation Service program was officiallly launched on July 24.
“This program is very important to the community because it’s going to save many people money and it’s going to help them access healthcare services much easier,” said José Rodríguez, president and CEO of El Concilio.
Rodríguez said the program will provide transportation services free of cost to non-emergency healthcare appointments locations within the city of Stockton.
Patients will be drive to and from the source of medical care.
The program assists clients from pick-up to drop-off to make sure they get there safely and on time.
The program offers door-to-door transportation services as well as a fixed-route shuttle service.
With the door-to-door transportation services, rides will be provided from a patient’s home or work site to an appointment at the health center, with a specialist or to see a social service provider. For this services reservation should be made with 48-hour notice to (209) 644-2616.
The fixed-route shuttle service offers an established route that is convenient for many patients and includes stops at various health and social service locations such as Turning Point, Dameron Hospital, St. Mary’s dining room, San Joaquín County – Clinics as well as San Joaquín General Hospital lobby among other stops within the city.
“Both ways, it’s free. We want people to understand that this is for the entire community and one of the vans is also wheelchair accessible,” Rodríguez said.
“We are excited to be able to bring back an expanded MTS program to Stockton,” said Rodríguez. “Abbott Fund’s commitment to Stockton was the vital link in El Concilio’s ability to offer route-based and door-to-door non-emergency medical transportation services to the community, with two new vans and handicap access.”
Rodríguez said since the program started they have been getting approximately 200 riders per week.
“But we know there is the potential to do more,” Rodríguez said adding that he is encouraging people to take advantage of the program and utilize the services.
“We have been piloting the program since April, and it has been gaining momentum with the community because it is a reliable service for people whose very lives depend on making their medical appointments,” said Seidy Ayala, MTS coordinator for El Concilio.
Ayala said, “despite a critical and growing need right here in Stockton, most patients are unable to find reliable transportation and drivers who understand their needs.”
“The Abbott Fund-El Concilio Medical Transportation Service is filling that gap,” Ayala said.
Steve Bestolarides, chair of the board of directors of El Concilio, said the non-emergency Medical Transportation Services offers “greater equity in healthcare to the citizens of Stockton.”
“These services are an example of our greater commitment to bring together philanthropic partners, so we can meet the critical need and the basic needs of our communities,” Bestolarides said.
“Everyday challenges like a lack of transportation prevent people from seeing their doctor and accessing routine care for the prevention and treatment of diabetes and other chronic diseases,” said Suki McClatchey, director, the Abbott Fund. “Our partnership with El Concilio is meant to help offer a solution, providing people with a convenient way to get the care they need at healthcare facilities across Stockton.”