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MedStar Health pays for patients in need to get Uber rides to appointments

Program celebrates first anniversary Satruday
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Posted at 1:58 PM, Jan 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-06 17:50:38-05

Getting to the doctor can be a hassle, especially for patients who rely on a friend or family member to make it to their appointment.

That's why MedStar Health partnered with the ride-share service Uber to get people the healthcare they need.

The program will be celebrating it's first anniversary Saturday, but at the Franklin Square Medical Arts Office, they've been using Uber for the past few months.

"When you look at our no show rate, sometimes on an average day we have 20 percent no show rate," Molly Todd Clinical Social Work Care Coordinator with MedStar Health said. The no shows cost providers money and keep other patients who are waiting for an appointment from getting that slot.

Todd said the Uber service is essential for their most severe patients. He said they could range from having strokes and diabetes, to chronic diseases.

"I work specifically with the high risk population, those who are medically fragile, admitted a lot, very very ill," Todd said.

One of her patients, Irving Washington, has been dealing with health problems for the past several years, he had vertebrae in his neck fused in September of 2015, and a heart triple bypass last March.

He also had two strokes, and has had trouble with passing out.

Washington moved to Baltimore seven years ago, to be closer to his only son, who lives in D.C. He was a utility worker at the Cafe and companion for at risk patients at a MedStar hospital South of Baltimore.

"I like helping people, I've been like that almost all my life, and I wanted to help somebody who's less fortunate than myself," Washington said.

After his back to back strokes, and his neck surgery, he couldn't work. He said he was also dealing with blood pressure so high it threatened his life.

He was living with his sister when he left his job, and soon realized he couldn't live in a tense environment, so he now lives in a county homeless shelter.

"Where he is in the shelter it's kind of secluded, and for people to find him, for a taxi to find him is difficult. But these Uber drivers with contact information, I can guide them by phone, where he is and how to reach him," Todd said.

Todd said MedStar will pay for those in need, who meet certain criteria to get a ride to and from their facility, but this service can help anyone.

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On MedStar's website, a "Ride with Uber" button is prominently displayed. There a patient can schedule a ride and a reminder to be sent to his or her phone.

"His admissions have lessened , he's feeling better, he's having less headaches, less chest pain and he's on the verge of getting employment and housing," Todd said getting to his appointments has changed his life.

On Friday, Washington's blood pressure was within a healthy range and Washington breathed a sigh of relief.

He is writing a fictional book he hopes to have published, and is interested in pursuing an acting career.

"Better health, that's what I'm trying, trying to get better health, to at least be able to work again if I need to," he said.  

Washington said he is working to get disability and will be moving next week to a more stable living situation.

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