Filling Gaps in Access to Care - The Feonix Volunteer Force

Filling Gaps in Access to Care - The Feonix Volunteer Force

Valerie Lefler Valerie Lefler
3 minute read

One of the most gut-wrenching experiences for a call center agent in the transportation industry, is when a patient calls to schedule a ride to their healthcare appointment—for example, a hip replacement or tubes for their toddler’s ears—and they discover that they can’t afford it.

Some cry, others yell and scream, and worst of all, some go silent—you can literally hear them stop breathing.  The pain, sickness, disappointment, and frustration are palpable over the phone.

Each year, over 5.8 million Americans delay or miss vital healthcare appointments because they lack access to transportation. Sometimes the distance is less than a mile, and the cost is less than $3, but it’s too far, too painful to walk, and it’s too expensive.

For example, if you’re living on social security of $662 a month, every penny matters. If you pay for your $40 ride to physical therapy, you can’t afford to pay for your groceries that week—or worse, you can’t make your rent and risk losing your apartment. So you sit there in excruciating pain another month, hoping that you’ll be able to afford the ride the following month.

I remember talking to a Purple Heart veteran who had to choose between a taxi ride to pick up his prescription pain medication and paying his electric bill. 

Across the United States, Feonix has worked with numerous transportation pilots to focus on breaking down barriers to access to care. From Beeville, Texas, to Lexington, Mississippi, to Grand Rapids, Michigan, and beyond, we partner with insurance companies, major advocacy associations, automotive manufacturers, transit agencies, hospitals, substance abuse treatment centers, federally qualified health centers, mental health facilities, and more to tackle this critical challenge.

No one can fix it alone; we must all work together. 

At Feonix, one of the most frequent transportation requests is for volunteer drivers. These are the kindest, most selfless individuals, who often go underrecognized in the mobility industry. There are over 700 volunteer transportation programs across the country, filling vital gaps in our access to care ecosystem.

Feonix leads a national volunteer program, and daily, they make the difference for patients who would otherwise be unable to get to their doctors’ appointments. Our volunteers are an impressive mix of retirees, college students, computer scientists, truck drivers, retired physicians, social workers, ministers, teachers, arborists, and people from just about every other career out there.

At Feonix, we call these incredible souls the Volunteer Force.” They are a force for good, a force for wellness, and a force for equity. 

At Feonix, we believe that regardless of insurance coverage, race, disability, language, income, zip code, internet access, or education, no one should go without access to healthcare.

I welcome you to meet a few members of the Feonix Volunteer Force:

In some of our mobility programs, volunteers provide 90% of the trips, in other programs maybe 15-20% -- but their commitment to their community enables us to fill vital gaps in transportation.  They are an integral part of the fabric of our mobility ecosystem.

If you are interested in learning more or working with Feonix to deploy a volunteer driver program in your community, please contact us - support@feonixmobilityrising.org!  

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”  – Margaret Mead

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