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Medical transport options expand

JACKSON – Citizens of Northampton County will soon have more options to choose from for medical transportation.

Northampton County’s Department of Social Services Director Shelia Evans appeared before the Board of Commissioners here Monday to seek approval to use two new transportation companies to provide services to county residents in need. These two companies are Healthy Start Medical Transportation of Wilson and On Demand Transport Service of Tarboro.

Currently the county is served by Choanoke Public Transportation Authority (CPTA), which Evans noted has had trouble providing timely service to citizens. On occasion, she said they have been unable to provide transportation services at all. A lack of drivers is one of the reasons for this issue, according to Evans.

Evans mentioned dialysis patients as one example of medical transportation needs that are not being met.

“Our citizens are being neglected,” she said.

“I have done a thorough investigation on two companies that have asked for DSS support in providing transportation,” Evans continued, reporting that she traveled to the offices of both companies to see their work and inspect their buses.

“They’re already operating in our neighboring counties, and we are very much in need of transportation,” she concluded.

Vice Chair Fannie Greene, filling in for absent Chairman Robert Carter, opened the floor for questions at the end of Evans’ presentation.

County Attorney Scott McKellar asked whether the contracts with the new companies will act as a supplement or a replacement for CPTA. Evans answered they will continue to use CPTA’s services as necessary, but they will ultimately leave the decision up to the citizens on which company to utilize.

Commissioner Geneva Faulkner noted the rates for CPTA had increased in 2017, and she was glad there will be more options for Northampton residents soon.

“We’ve needed that for a while,” Greene agreed.

Commissioner Charles Tyner thanked Evans for the thorough work in gathering all the information about this new opportunity for the citizens. His only question was if the DSS Board had agreed with her recommendation.

“They’re very supportive,” Evans replied.

Tyner motioned to approve the contracts with the two transportation companies, and Commissioner Chester Deloatch seconded it. The Board voted unanimously in favor.

According to contract information provided to the Commissioner Board, On Demand Transport Services will provide dialysis transportation to both Conway and Roanoke Rapids for $26.04 per two-way trip. The rate for out of county medical transportation varied depending on distance.

Healthy Start Medical Transportation’s contract stated that dialysis transportation will be $21.80 per two-way trip to Conway and $35.86 per two-way trip to Roanoke Rapids. The rate for out of county medical transportation varied depending on distance.