Since the pandemic started, many seniors in town have found getting to doctor’s appointments to be a challenge, as the town’s volunteer medical drivers have been sidelined.
“Right up until COVID hit and we had to close the Senior Center, we had about 33 medical rides a month,” outreach coordinator Kim Carson explained. “I kept getting calls, ‘Is anyone going to drive anymore?’ Our volunteers are all seniors and they are high risk. So we had to suspend the program. It still isn’t running.”
Carson started looking for other options, and last fall she found one: a transportation grant from the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). Because the organization was overwhelmed with applications, Hopkinton only recently was approved, Carson said. Starting April 1, the town will receive $40,000 to cover taxi/livery service for seniors (60 and over), veterans and those who are homebound due to a disability. Transportation can be not only to medical visits but for essential shopping as well.
Carson said the grant will be a huge help to those in need of assistance, especially with limited public transportation options in town.
“There was a tremendous void,” she said. “I had people with chronic illnesses, chronic conditions like diabetes, cardiac pulmonary issues that required monthly management and they weren’t able to get to their doctors. And they don’t Zoom, because they don’t have the technology and some people are afraid of the technology. There are just a lot of factors that made it complex.”
The Knights of Columbus have stepped up to help, Carson said, and some seniors have been able to get rides from neighbors.
“But it’s just not been a great fix,” she said. “Some of them also haven’t seen their doctors in a while, or have stretched it out or talked over the phone when they should be seen in-person.”
Carson noted that the program also will help the taxi/livery companies and employees, many of whom have seen business decline during the pandemic.
COVID safety precautions (masks, sanitizer, social distancing) will be in effect.
Anyone interested in taking advantage of this service should contact the Senior Center.