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Transportation resources to COVID-19 vaccine appointments

The state and local health departments offer free transportation for people who do not have a way to get to their appointments.
Published: Feb. 24, 2021 at 11:00 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Andrea Newman saw her own family experience difficulties getting vaccine appointments and finding a way to get there.

“Grandpa and family members that are elderly and maybe don’t have a computer at home, it’s been challenging to help them navigate,” Newman explained.

She wanted to help others in the same position.

“I’ve looked on different volunteer websites, looked on the Wisconsin DHS,” Newman said.

Newman did not find volunteer opportunities, but NBC15 talked to local health systems about how they are helping patients. Dean Health Plan, a member of SSM Health, has several transportation options for their Medicare-eligible patients.

“They both have access through our companionship benefit Papa Pals, that also provides assistance with errands and transportation,” said Jaclyn Jacobson, Dean Health Plan’s director of product for Medicare.

The state and local health departments have free transportation options for people who need a...
The state and local health departments have free transportation options for people who need a ride to their appointment.(UW Health)

Patients can also get rides to appointments through the ride-sharing app Lyft.

“They are free and covered by their benefits,” Jacobson said.

Local health departments and the state also have resources available. Dane County teamed up with New Bridge Madison.

“Once the older adult has scheduled their appointment, then they call us and say we need a ride,” New Bridge Madison executive director Jim Krueger said.

New Bridge works with cab companies and other transportation services to schedule those rides. To schedule a ride, call (608) 512-0000, extension 3.

For Medicaid patients, the state also provides free transportation, including same-day rides to vaccine appointments. To get a ride through the state service, call 866-907-1493.

“This need has only increased as we’ve been working on getting our eligible patients vaccinated,” said Sarah Valencia, director of population health at UnityPoint Health-Meriter.

Newman said she is glad to hear resources are available.

“If they can’t get there by themselves, that there’s other avenues, people to help them get there,” she said.

Some health systems told NBC15 there may be more opportunities for people to get involved as the vaccine expands to other eligible groups.

When it comes to getting vaccines to people who are homebound, DHS told NBC15 it is up to local health departments to coordinate that. SSM Health said if people are homebound in their own house, they can access vaccine appointments through the transportation services available.

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