For seniors who are frail or disabled, transportation in O‘ahu can be challenging. Doctor’s visits are not that simple — scheduling a care partner to ride along, long waits for pickup, and worrying if there will be a long line at the doctor’s office. Steps and elevators add to the fun, and sometimes one visit takes up the entire day! Don’t mention the cost.

Senior living and extended care facilities are growing and expanding services. One service is transporting residents and clients to and from their medical appointments. The move to providing transportation has some serious benefits for patients and their families. If a loved one visits dentist, eye doctor, podiatrist, their heart specialist and internist just once a year, that spends five vacation days. Hiring an aid and a private, accessible van to provide transport sounds good, but having new helpers is stressful on your loved one, and it is difficult to assess whether your loved one is safe and comfortable during transport.

In September, the first large care provider on O‘ahu announced that they were forming a separate transportation division to provide reliable and accountable in-house transportation for clients who have to visit hospitals and medical appointments. Patients, families and staff documented transport issues and the obvious answer was to serve the patients. For routine outside therapies like dialysis, which already takes a toll on the patient, reliable transportation is crucial.

Now in operation for three months, the transportation division is getting a good report card from patients, and staff. As the numbers of longterm care patients and assisted living residents increase in Hawai‘i, accessible patient transportation will become a greater need, and health care facilities that want to provide a quality experience for long-term patients will be obliged to consider expanded transportation services just to compete for clients.

This transportation innovation is another indicator that Hawai‘i care providers are gearing up for the future when a large portion of our population will be 85 years old and older.

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HALE NANI REHABILITATION AND NURSING CENTER 1677 Pensacola St., Honolulu, HI 96222 808-537-3371