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Farewell to Care-A-Van

By Patsy Hough


I am Patsy Hough, better known to many as the CARE-A-VAN lady.

On Oct. 1 1996, I began employment with the Southeastern Utah Association of Governments. The program I was hired to work with, called CARE-A-VAN, was a volunteer program providing non-emergency transportation services to the elderly, people with disabilities, and those suffering with a chronic illness. My position as a technician included scheduling and coordinating transportation for eligible individuals to their medical appointments. Additional responsibilities were billing and assisting with accounts receivable and accounts payable. I incorporated a monthly newsletter featuring individuals receiving services and those individuals providing the service in addition to information on health care issues.

In August 1997 I accepted the position of program manager. The new position included volunteer recruitment, grant writing, eligibility determination, and supervising volunteers and staff. Scheduling trainings was also required in meeting program guidelines.

On Jan. 4, 2000, the program was relocated to Southeast Utah District Health Department. At the time of the move, all four counties (Emery, Carbon, San Juan and Grand) were still receiving services. Being the only employee in the main office, all job duties became my responsibility including finding the funding to operate the entire program. This proved to be a very huge challenge.

In February of 2002 a trip was made to Salt Lake City to pick up the first and only van for the program. The van was purchased with grant funding secured from Carbon County and Rural Development. On top of the responsibilities already in place, an added position of van driver was added to my list. At this time only three counties remained in the program. Volunteers continued to serve Emery and Grand Counties. Individuals needing specialized care locate outside of the Carbon area were served by volunteers, and the CARE-A-VAN lady became the driver of the CARE-A-VAN Shuttle along with the responsibilities already in place. As the years went by the number of individuals utilizing the service increased from 100 to 1,000 indicating a growing need for non-emergency medical transportation in the rural areas. More funding was needed to handle the increased need. However onn May 26, 2010 the Southeastern Utah District Health Department board elected to end the program. Although Carbon Country was willing to take the program, unknown obstacles prevented them from doing so.

At this time, I want to thank the Southeastern Utah District Health Department for their support, the entities who provided financial support, my staff for their dedication in serving others, the people who have received services, the families of those residing near and far who were unable to assist their family members and entrusted them to my care. Thank you to the local physicians, Castleview Hospital, and the physicians and facilities located on the Wasatch Front for working with me in scheduling appointments for their patients, and Active Re-Entry for the use of their buses. Thank you to Howa and Sons for managing the aluminum can drive. Most of all, I want to thank my family and friends for being so patient with me as I took on this challenge.

The job I had proved to be the most difficult position. However, it truly has been the most rewarding. Meeting people from all walks of life and working with foundation staff is truly a reward in itself. Saying farewell is not easy, but the time has come. I will miss your smiles, but hold the memories near and dear to my heart.

PickMeUp provides services for eligible Medicaid recipients. Their toll free number is 888-822-1048. For questions regarding the PickMeUp service, the contact person with Health Care Finance can be reached at 1-801-538-6483.

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