The Center for Vision Loss has purchased and activated a new transport vehicle for its Monroe County clients with support from ESSA Bank & Trust, the Northeast PA Lions Service Foundation, and several Monroe County Lions Clubs.
Purchase of the 2018 Kia Sorrento was funded by an $11,000 grant from ESSA; a $10,000 grant from the Northeast PA Lions; and contributions from the Tannersville Lions Club, Pocono Lions Club, Bushkill Smithfields Lions Club, Western Pocono Lioness Club. The new vehicle replaces a transport vehicle that was taken out of service in the fall of 2017.
The Center for Vision Loss has provided its escorted transportation service to people with severe visual impairments in Monroe County since the agency began its service to the area in 2002. Approximately 100 clients in Monroe County use this service annually. More than 68% of these clients are ages 65 and up, and more than 91% of clients are from low-income households. For a person to qualify as an agency vision loss client, they must have a visual acuity of 20/70 or worse in their better eye with best correction or a visual field of 20 degrees or worse.
The total number of rides provided for Monroe clients increased 13% during 2017-2018. The escorted transportation service is used primarily for travel to medical appointments, support services, and agency programs and activities that counteract isolation and improve quality of life. More than 74% of Monroe rides during 2017-2018 were for those purposes. A majority of the additional rides were used for grocery shopping trips.
The agency’s escorted transportation service is “door-through-door,” which means that sighted guides escort the clients from their homes and into their destinations. Guides are trained in techniques for guiding a visually impaired person properly in indoor and outdoor environments. When it is necessary, guides provide additional assistance – such as helping to read paperwork or carrying bags into clients’ homes. While there is a small user fee, no qualified client is denied due to financial hardship.
The escorted transportation service meets an important and growing need. In a May 2017 needs assessment by United Way of Monroe County, transportation and medicine or medical treatment were two of the five largest daily challenges faced by people ages 65 or older. Across the United States, missed medical appointments have been estimated to cost the healthcare industry $150 billion a year. Patients that are highly likely to miss appointments include older adults who no longer drive and lack other reliable transportation.