Tuesday, August 31, 2010 2:13 PM

Shuttle service now back at Community Regional

When the shuttle bus service at Community Regional Medical Center’s 58-acre campus came to a stop due to the downward spiral of the economy, several hospital volunteers found a way to get it rolling again to help transport patients, guests and those with limited mobility around the campus.

To help meet that need, volunteer services provides a shuttle cart service to patients and guests at the hospital. Monday, Aug. 16 marked the first day of the new service. Joe Vomacka who recently retired as Community Regional’s fire/life safety officer and is now coordinating the shuttle service as a volunteer said it is a priority to provide the best experience for hospital guests.

“The hospital has been very good to me,” Vomacka said. “The patients have a need, and it’s a good service to offer.” He went on to explain that he feels it is important to give back.

Kevin Weaver, director of corporate security services, said it is thanks to these volunteers that this service has returned to Community Regional. Security provides the training for volunteer drivers which consist of a driver’s and proficiency test and safety regulations. While on duty, drivers wear red polo shirts so they can be easily identified by patients and guests.

So far, five volunteers have completed the process to drive the carts and there are hopes to later expand the service. Security maintains the carts and provides the necessary supplies.

There are several benefits to this service. The new shuttle carts can drive into parking structures and drop off guests directly to their cars – something the old 15,000 pound busses could not do because they were too large to maneuver in enclosed areas. The carts operate point-to-point rather than following a fixed transportation schedule as the buses did, are more cost efficient in fuel and maintenance and are fit to the individual needs of the passengers. Carts also can accommodate up to three people in addition to the driver, however; it is not equipped to shuttle patients with power wheel chairs.

“It is much more dedicated to patients and guests from a customer service prospective,” said Antonio Nieto, manager of volunteer services.

The service has been received very well by the initial riders. The first day of the new service brought in more than 50 pickups and more than 80 passengers. The volunteer shuttle program runs between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.

If a patient or guest needs assistance in getting to and from buildings please call 708-7459 to arrange for a shuttle cart.

This story was reported by Kaelin Ng. She can be reached at medwatchtoday@communitymedical.org.