The TCMH Medivan service.

Texas County Memorial Hospital recently received $82,354 from Federal Transit Administration money given to the Missouri Department of Transportation to assist with operation of the TCMH Medivans.

MODOT divvies out the federal funds through the “New Freedom Program,” which provides matching funds for capital and operating assistance for transit systems in the state that specifically assist people with disabilities.

Thirty-five percent of Medivan patients require wheelchair accommodations available in the vans.

The grant funds will be used to cover approximately half of the Medivans’ operating budget in 2009 through 2012. Although the grant was just received by the hospital, the funding cycle actually began in the middle of 2009, so some of the funds will be used to meet past expenses.

The TCMH Medivan is the non-emergency transportation van system owned by TCMH. Two vans provide transportation for medically related purposes across Texas County and the surrounding area.

TCMH received the Medivans through a $275,987 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. It was used over the course of three years to purchase the vans and to employ two drivers as well as covering costs such as fuel for the vans.

“These grants have helped the hospital operate the Medivan service with only a small operational loss,” said Wes Murray, chief executive officer at TCMH. “Gas prices have risen since the vans hit the road, and they are still much higher than they were when we started the Medivan service.”

Murray noted that as gas prices have risen and the economy has changed, the need for the Medivan has also risen.

“The Medivans provide a much-needed service in our area to help patients get to medical appointments or to their pharmacy,” he said, “and we are committed to continuing to provide this service as we are able.”

Since their inception, the vans have traveled 156,588 miles in 5,259 one-way trips. Medivan trips average 29 miles one way.

“We are extremely grateful for the gift of this funding to assist with operational costs of the Medivan,” Murray said.

Medivan rides are low cost, ranging from $5 to $12.50 with additional charges for the occasional trips that travel outside of the usual TCMH service area.

“As TCMH seeks to meet our mission of providing a ‘total commitment to maximum healthcare,’ we attempt to boost the healthcare services we are able to provide by seeking grant funding.” Murray said. “Again, we are fortunate to have been chosen to receive a grant to assist us with another excellent and important patient service.”

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