Shuttle provides more healthcare access

Published 2:42 pm Thursday, March 5, 2009

Perry County residents now have access to more quality healthcare options thanks to a complimentary shuttle service between Vaughan Regional Medical Center and Vaughan’s Marion Clinic. The shuttle, which runs the first Friday of each month, departs from the clinic at 8:30 a.m. and returns after all patients have been treated.

For now, the service targets women who need mammograms, and other health screenings and tests. Vaughan COO Cherie Sibley said access to healthcare is key in preventing illnesses such as breast cancer, which is one of the top five causes of death for women in the United States.

“Maybe the only mode of transportation they have is this service,” Sibley said. “Women’s health is just an important event. We’re just trying to raise awareness in the community.”

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A Vaughan Regional Medical Center employee drives the hospital-owned, white passenger van, which makes vehicle maintenance, driver’s salary and gasoline the only expenses.

Jason Armstrong, a family nurse practitioner at the Marion clinic, said since Perry County public transportation cannot cross county lines, the shuttle is paramount to the community’s health.

“Transportation will keep people from going and taking care of themselves,” Armstrong said. “Nowadays, with gas being what it is, I think anything you can do to help people get a foot up is a benefit to the community.”

So far, one person signed up for the shuttle’s initial trip, scheduled for today. Dr. David Potts, president of Judson College in Marion, said when word gets out about the service more people would make use of it. Just the access the shuttle service creates improves the health of Perry County, he said.

“One of the great barriers in terms of access to quality healthcare for people in this area in our state is they have only limited modes and opportunities related to transportation,” Potts said.

“The fact that Vaughan Regional has reached out to its clinic here is very important to improving the health of people in Perry County,” he added.

Vaughan Regional Medical Center is a 175-bed hospital that employs more than 600 people and serves about 90,000 residents in the Selma area.

Reservations are required for the shuttle service and can be made by calling Vaughan’s Marion Clinic at 683-9085.