Brother, Can You Spare A Ride?

Judy Kramer
County Reporter
Missouri Rural Health Association was developed to support rural communities’ health care. It does this through the programs they offer. One such program is HealthTran. HealthTran provides its members with services to increase transportation options for health and wellness appointments in designated regions throughout rural Missouri. HealthTran’s new members, Golden Valley Medical Memorial Health (GVMH), and Katy Trail in Benton County, will offer transportation to clients/patients who otherwise are unable to access care. These health providers are going above and beyond to improve health for those they serve. 
HealthTran assists communities in several ways; a one-stop scheduling system, health and transportation assessments, education and training and developing new transportation services. HealthTran is presently recruiting volunteer drivers in Benton, Henry and Morgan counties to help fill gaps in transportation. Drivers receive a generous mileage reimbursement, and they can pick their own schedule, set mileage limits and make a difference in the community. 
In addition, HealthTran brings local transit providers together such as OATS, Uber and taxi companies, and works with nontraditional organizations with transit vehicles such as assisted living providers, Head Start, ambulance districts, hospitals and others who can improve community access. The technology platform is free to all transit providers and makes scheduling rides and navigating transportation much simpler. HealthTran works on the WIN-WIN for rural areas, increasing economic stability for riders, drivers and businesses.
GVMH begins rides in October and Katy Trail will be active in November. Both health providers will be scheduling rides for their patients/clients using the HealthTran ride scheduling platform by selecting the best fitting and most affordable option, with consideration given to a client’s mobility needs.
Missouri Rural Health Association members can utilize the HealthTran program’s many services, including a monthly HealthTran scheduling platform subscription of $37.50, plus a one-time kick-off fee. The HealthTran program is available to other organizations that want to provide an alternate plan of transit for employees. Employers can use the program to schedule transportation for someone who can’t get to work because of car trouble, or who has a member of the family who needs the car to get to a doctor’s appointment. Education sites can use this type of program to assist parents with teacher meetings, such as Individual Education Plans, when they have no personal transportation available. The program is open to anyone who has customers who need transportation assistance.
 “Volunteer Drivers from the community are a big part of the HealthTran program and we need them to be able to start providing transportation,” said Ranae Walrath, Director of Social Services at Golden Valley Memorial Health. “This transportation can also be provided for getting groceries and prescriptions as well as doctor’s visits.”
Mary Gordon, Director of HealthTran said the program is recognized as one of the most innovative Mobility Management solutions in the nation.
 “We are working on a statewide program to help people get where they need to go,” said Gordon. “To help sustain and build, we are just starting to work with volunteer organizations like veteran groups, senior centers, RSVP programs, churches and other organizations with a volunteer base. The goal is to provide support and knowledge in sustaining and building a volunteer driver program. It is our hope that HealthTran and local volunteer stations can work together to improve transportation options.”
To become a Volunteer Driver with HealthTran, the following is required: a completed application, a valid driver’s license for a minimum of three years, auto insurance, and vehicle registration, passed drug test and background check, attend or complete all required training, possess a personal cell phone, have access to a smartphone and/or personal computer, maintain a clean personal vehicle in safe operating condition, and commit to drive at least once per month. Drivers can pick their own schedule, select the rides that meet their availability, set their own limits, drive locally or long distance. Drivers receive CIMA Volunteer Insurance coverage.
Those interested in becoming a Volunteer Driver may email –; call 573-616-2740, Extension 4, or visit 
Presently, one of the major methods of public transportation in Benton County is through OATS. Fares are $2.50 for in-town riders and $5 for county service. Seniors 60 plus and individuals with disabilities 18-59 riding under the AAA contract do not have a set fare but are asked to contribute a minimum amount for their rides. OATS goes to Sedalia the first and third Tuesday each month, to Warsaw every Friday and to the Warsaw Senior Center from Warsaw on Tuesday through Friday, from 10 AM to 1 PM. If OATS is being used for transportation to a medical appointment, patients will need to call the 1-800 number on the back of their Medicaid card to schedule the ride.