Thanks to a grant from the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation’s President’s Fund, transportation for Linn County residents with medical appointments in Iowa City will continue.
The $5,000 grant ensures service by the Corridor Medical Shuttle for Linn County residents with medical appointments at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics and the Veterans Affairs Hospital. The University announced that, due to budget constraints, it would discontinue its transportation service effective December 31, 2012.
The shuttle has enabled Linn County veterans, IowaCare patients (those uninsured who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Medicare) and others without transportation to get to medical appointments. As word spread last fall of the service ending, the Transportation Advisory Group of Cedar Rapids, made up of Linn County LIFTS, Neighborhood Transportation Service (NTS), other local transportation providers and nonprofits, began searching for funds.
“We decided to put our heads together to see what we could find as possible resources,” explains Terry Bergen, Mobility Manager for the Transportation Advisory Group.
They needed to find funding immediately. Bergen was aware of the Community Foundation President’s Fund. Because it’s available for emergency, immediate needs, the fund was the Group’s best hope.
“This was happening too fast for us to apply through a regular grant application review process,” Bergen says. “The President’s Fund worked because they responded quickly to our request. It really helped us.”
It also strengthened the group’s position in seeking additional funding through the Iowa Department of Transportation, Bergen adds. The Community Foundation grant covers 20 percent of the shuttle cost, with IDOT picking up the additional 80 percent, for operations through 2013.
Future funding will be reviewed later this year.
The new shuttle service is wheelchair accessible and operates twice a week, providing round-trip service from Cedar Rapids to the UI and VA hospitals in Iowa City. Veterans ride for free. IowaCare patients only pay $1 each way and others pay $8 each way.
“It seems to be going pretty well,” Bergen says, with about five riders each day.
Call it making the best of a bad situation, which fits perfectly with one of Bergen’s favorite sayings: “If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
Fund Purpose: Address emergencies, sector development, and emerging opportunities.
Grant Award: $5,000