NW Rides Improves Access to Care

By Shelby Porter, AmeriCorps Diabetes Prevention & Community Health Promotion VISTA with Tillamook County Community Health Centers

Have you ever needed to get across town or even out of town for a doctor’s appointment, but were unable to find a ride? What were your choices? This challenge often results in not getting needed care or having to wait longer than advisable to get care. Forgoing or postponing care should not be an option. In a community with limited resources, access to care can be a common barrier, especially for those who may need special ride arrangements.

Jody Bell, a native to Tillamook, has faced this challenge. Jody is very active in her community. She serves on the Tillamook County Wellness Access to Healthy Food Committee, Co-Chairs the Community Advisory Council for the Columbia Pacific CCO, crochets clothes for those in need, and socializes at her favorite yarn store. Jody is physically disabled and is in a power chair. It is her chair that allows her the freedom to be independent and take part in the community, however, at times her chair can be problematic, as she is not able to ride with friends or family in a standard vehicle. Jody has battled depression and has needed specialty care that she could not obtain in Tillamook. Fortunately, there is a program here that has made it easier for her to get care. Non-Emergency Medical Transportation through NW Rides is a program that makes sure members can get to services covered by Columbia Pacific CCO with no cost to its health plan members. This includes access to specialized vehicles with drivers for folks who use power chairs, and it also reimburses gas for those who have a car or whose family member provides a ride, as well as bus tickets. The transportation chosen is based on what is most appropriate for the individual member, rather than a one size fits all approach. Jody advised that you may order a ride by calling Columbia Pacific CCO’s Customer Service, and typically provide at least 48 hours of notice for the ride to be arranged. “Taking a ride from a stranger, such as the programs in Portland, is fearful, but here, the drivers are local; they are great drivers, and I trust them,” Jody explained while further describing the program.
With NW Rides, Jody has been able to get the necessary care she needed not only in Tillamook, but in Newport and Warrenton as well. Without this program, Jody states, “my choice would to be to go without care.” NW Rides is a bridge in closing the gap in access to care. For Advisory Council Members like Jody who are involved with advocacy work, it is important to her to get the “word out” on what Columbia Pacific CCO offers. If you are an Oregon Health Plan member you can go to Columbia Pacific CCO’s website at colpachealth.org or call their customer service at 1-855-722-8206 to learn more information about the health plan benefit.
For more local health and wellness information, visit tillamookcountyhealthmatters.org or follow Tillamook County Wellness on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.