Photo by Curt Yeomans
Kevin Spivey, executive director of MEDTRANS, operates one of its paratransit van's wheelchair lifts. The Conley-based service is providing free transportation for wheelchair-bound residents needing transportation to the doctor, pharmacy, or the hospital.
By Joel Hall
In 1995, years before the C-TRAN bus service ever existed, MEDTRANS, a Conley-based medical transport company, offered free medical transportation to people confined to wheelchairs.
The service, said MEDTRANS Executive Director Kevin Spivey, was a blessing to citizens facing some of the greatest challenges due to the county's lack of public transportation. "We were trying to reach out to the community we serve," he said. "There was a lot of need for people to get to the hospital, because they didn't have a bus service."
As C-TRAN's regular and paratransit services took flight in 2001, the free medical transportation program offered by MEDTRANS faded into obscurity, because more and more disabled riders flocked to C-TRAN.
With C-Tran service eliminated on March 31, MEDTRANS' staff has recently invested more time and money into its free medical transportation program, with the hopes that people will once again utilize the service.
Residents, who are wheelchair-bound, can now call MEDTRANS for free round-trip transportation to the hospital, pharmacy, and doctors' appointments.
According to Spivey, anyone who uses the service must be a resident of Clayton, or northern Henry County (no further south than McDonough), be confined to a wheelchair, and call MEDTRANS at least 72 hours in advance, to set up an appointment.
"We just got more funding for it," Spivey said. "It's internal funding, member support, volunteers who put in time on the weekends. It's all private funding," he said.
"The owner [of the service] has a great aunt that resides in Clayton County, and she was faced with a situation where she couldn't make it to her appointments [due to the loss of C-TRAN]," said Spivey. "We want people to know that there is a company now that can facilitate people, if they are in a wheelchair and have no other means of transportation."
According to Spivey, however, the primary function of MEDTRANS is to provide private ambulance services. He said its fleet of 14 ambulances, serve municipal 911 operations throughout the metro area, as far north as Austell, and as far south as Macon.
MEDTRANS also has a non-emergency fleet of 26 vehicles, which includes a combination of minivans, passenger vans, and paratransit buses. Spivey said the proceeds from its ambulance service allows MEDTRANS to operate its medical transportation program free of charge, using its non-emergency vehicles, most of which are wheelchair-equipped.
MEDTRANS CEO David Walker issued the following statement regarding the free medical transportation program: "Transportation is an integral part of the health-care field. We provide transportation to members who can no longer get on a bus, but do not qualify for Medicare [or] Medicaid.
"By ensuring our citizens make necessary doctors' visits, we help maintain their quality of life. It brings our company great joy to be a part of Clayton County members' well-being."
Spivey said without a wheelchair-accessible van, wheelchair-bound residents are essentially trapped within their homes. He said he hopes MEDTRANS' recent push will remind citizens that their program continues to exist.
"I think people have forgotten about the service over the years, because C-TRAN was there, and their buses could pick up people in wheelchairs," Spivey said. "We've been trying to reach out to the community and let them know that we are still here."
For more information, or to schedule a pick-up, call (404) 362-1000.