Volunteer Center seeks to increase transports

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Volunteer Center offers a wide variety of services throughout the county, but one service in particular is in need of users.

     The center’s transportation program, which has been ongoing since 2012, serves senior citizens 55 and over. The program transports Jones County residents to non-emergency medical appointments outside of the county. Center Coordinator Amy Keltner said her volunteer drivers typically take residents to appointments in Dubuque, Cedar Rapids, and Iowa City.

     “It’s based strictly on donations,” explained Keltner, meaning county residents aren’t charged a fee for the transportation service. Nor is it reimbursed through Medicare or Medicaid. The center does receive some grant funding. “We don’t charge a flat fee,” added Keltner.

     If transports can’t offer a donation, Keltner said they are not turned down.

     “That’s why I rally for funding and grants,” she said.

     The First Presbyterian Church in Monticello made a generous $500 donation toward the transportation program during the holidays.

     With some residents having multiple medical appointments outside of Jones County a week, Keltner said her drivers are always on the go. They transport people to a variety of appointments: eye doctor, dental, dialysis, physical therapy, cancer treatments, general doctor appointments, etc.

     “We only do appointments during the week because of our funding limits and the number of drivers I have,” explained Keltner.

     With 17 volunteer drivers who utilize their own vehicles, about 30 residents were transported to 50 medical appointments outside of Jones County in the month of January alone. For the entire year of 2017, drivers covered 70,000 miles.

     However, as senior citizens age, Keltner said numbers tend to go down for the program.

     “A lot of our clients are at least 70-plus,” she said. “And with natural progression of age, our numbers tend to decrease at times.”

     Keltner said some of her clients have been long-time users of the transportation program.

     “I’ve seen 12 of our regular clients pass away,” she said.

     Some clients also move in with their family members or move into nursing homes.

     “There are also people here who still don’t know about our program,” admitted Keltner.

     This transportation program does not compete with JETS, which serves residents inside the county. Keltner said both programs run Monday through Friday due to funding.

     “We usually need a week’s notice for appointments,” Keltner said. “We try to accommodate everyone, but sometimes our volunteers aren’t available because of the weather or their own schedules.

     “We have open space available and want to make sure we’re serving as many people as possible,” added Keltner.

     She said both her drivers and transports enjoy the service as it gives everyone a chance to visit and get to know other people.

     “It’s a good way for people to engage,” shared Keltner.

     To take advantage of the Volunteer Center’s transportation program, contact Keltner at 319-560-0811 or Amy.Keltner@uweci.org. The center is located at 105 Broadway Place, Suite 1 in Anamosa.


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