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UAHS announces transportation plan

Posted on: 03/31/2021

Upper Allegheny Health System (UAHS), which includes Bradford Regional Medical Center (BRMC) and Olean General Hospital (OGH), has announced an agreement with Area Transportation Authority of North Central Pennsylvania (ATA) to establish transportation services between the two hospitals beginning May 1. Transportation services will be demand-based at no cost to non-emergency patients and visitors at both facilities. Headquartered in Johnsonburg, Pa., ATA is the established public transportation provider for McKean County as part of its regional transportation and mobility management services.

The service will run by reservations only, 10 hours per day, seven days a week, including holidays. Reservations will be accepted from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday-Friday, and 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, Sundays and major holidays. The service will be funded by UAHS and free to all passengers. In addition to BRMC, OGH and Tops Friendly Markets in Bradford, arrangements are being finalized for pickups and drop offs at additional points within the community, such as area pharmacies. All riders must wear masks and appropriate COVID-safe seat spacing must be followed.

Non-acute patients and visitors can make reservations beginning April 19 by calling, toll-free, 866-743-3282 or 866 RIDE ATA. Reservations can be made up to two weeks in advance. Priority transportation for same-day service will be offered to visitors with loved ones admitted for an inpatient stay at OGH in order to accommodate visitation.

“We know lack of transportation in rural communities is a significant issue in many respects, and a commonly cited social determinant of health,” said Jeff Zewe, RN, president and CEO of Upper Allegheny Health System. “We are thrilled that ATA is partnering with us on this first-of-its-kind service, giving patients and visitors access to both hospitals in a fast, convenient and reliable way. This is a tremendous win, not only for our hospitals and patients, but for our communities at-large. We are pleased to better connect Bradford and Olean, and we offer our sincere appreciation to our transportation team for making this happen.”

Zewe said UAHS will support the cost of the new service and indicated the health system is reaching out to state and federal elected officials to look at long-range opportunities and funding that would allow for the expansion of health care-related transportation between the two cities in collaboration with ATA. UAHS is also exploring grants as a way to defer some of the costs.

“Providing transportation for individuals to access health care is a lifeline service ATA has operated since its inception in 1976,” said Mike Imbrogno, chief executive officer of the Area Transportation Authority. “Providing access to health care remains a top priority and having the opportunity to partner with the Upper Allegheny Health System to provide transportation for non-emergency patients and visitors is a great example of organizations collaborating to enhance the availability of transportation offerings. ATA endeavors to support organizations and communities in their efforts by eliminating barriers resulting from the lack of transportation.”

Scheduling information will be advertised, distributed to physician offices at BRMC and OGH and accessible on the hospitals’ websites as well.

Zewe said transportation needs for acute and emergent patients will continue to be addressed in cooperation with local emergency medical services (EMS) operations.

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