CareVan Driver Larry Wallace knows how many miles apart each stop is on his route. “We have 23 miles until we get to Baxter Springs to pick up Mellisa,” Larry says, driving away from Mary Jones’ house. “Then we’ll take them to Spring River and head on to the next.”
Mary, who met Mellisa Beck through transportation services, called Mellisa to let her know the CareVan was on the way. “See you soon, honey,” she says to her friend before hanging up. Mellisa and Mary have been riding with Larry through CareVan for several months and are pretty glad about it. “He’s always on time and friendly,” Mary says.
Larry credits the dispatch team for CareVan’s success in getting patients where they need to be. “Luke and Sarah have been doing an amazing job,” he says. “We all communicate very well.”
Larry is part of a great team, he said, which includes Transportation Program Manager Dee Yount, Lead Dispatcher Sarah Peterson, Transportation Billing Coordinator Luke Bloomfield and drivers Bill Crawford, Kim Grigsby, James Tarter, and Jamee Schirk.
Patients call CareVan using a specific transportation number, or they can be scheduled for a ride at their CHC/SEK appointment. CareVan Dispatch strategically places them on a schedule, and that shows up on a tablet that drivers use for navigation.
Access to public transportation allows Tara Fraiser, of Columbus, to be more independent. She needs wheelchair-accessible transportation. Larry parked the CareVan, hopped out, and greeted Tara. “How are we doing today?” Larry says as he preps the lift. “I’m doing fine,” Tara says. They chatted back and forth about their day between Larry letting Tara know she was safe as she moved forward onto the ramp and then raised to the level of the vehicle floor before rolling into the space where she’s buckled in.
“I’m thankful,” Tara says. “If it wasn’t for them, I might not have a job.”
By 1 p.m. Larry dropped the three ladies off at their destinations and was 115 miles into his day. Later he picks up another woman to head out to Galena’s orthopedic center. Then he picks up everyone he dropped off earlier. A mother from Baxter Springs and her 12-year-old son are the last riders of the day. The boy jumped aboard with a big smile, happily bantering back and forth with his trusted driver.
By 5 p.m. — with over 200 miles under his belt — it was time to head back to Pittsburg. Under the yellowy evening glow, Larry ran his evening maintenance checks before heading home too.