Getting There Conference Leads to Collaboration Between Transportation and Healthcare
By Nick Cecconi, Assistant Director, Mobility Management of South Central New York, a collaborative project led by Rural Health Network of South Central New York
Getting There - A Conference on Bridging the Transportation and Healthcare Gap was held on Wednesday, October 26, 2017, in Binghamton, NY. The conference, hosted by Rural Health Network of South Central New York (RHN), brought together nearly 250 attendees from over 12 counties and a wide range of professional backgrounds. Representatives from healthcare, philanthropy, health and human services, and government worked alongside elected officials, mobility managers, transportation providers, and others to better understand the evolving relationship between transportation and healthcare.
Start with goals
The conference had three goals:
- To educate healthcare and community health providers on mobility management and transportation services, resources, and systems.
- To identify and share information on best (better) practices for addressing transportation-to-healthcare needs.
- To identify and share information on resource and policy issues that impact transportation and to improve access to healthcare.
Tom Kowalik, of Kowalik and Associates in Corning, NY, led the day’s proceedings and provided the opening words, urging all to get outside of their comfort zone throughout the day. The morning sessions featured a video from WSKG about rural transportation challenges, followed by panel discussions on topics ranging from the past and future of mobility management in New York State to how people can better utilize New York’s Medicaid transportation brokerage system.
National and local perspectives
The afternoon session began with keynote speaker Sheryl Gross-Glaser of the Community Transportation Association of America discussing nationwide examples of transportation and healthcare coming together to solve mobility problems.
After the keynote and energized by the Double Tree Hotel’s famous cookies, attendees were ushered downstairs to their locally-focused sessions, loosely based on their “home” counties. Attendees were then introduced to a hypothetical person with a transportation need and charged with finding an appropriate solution to get that person to medical care. The exercise was created to help healthcare professionals learn to think like a mobility manager, asking questions and generating possible solutions. Over the course of the session, attendees were identified how certain aspects of their work might be altered to make transportation easier for patients, or even easier for themselves.
Conference starts work on transportation toolkit
The last session of the conference actually began the creation a transportation toolkit. The attendees were advised that:
[T]he purpose of a Transportation & Health Toolkit is to provide easily accessible information to quickly address the transportation needs of transportation disadvantaged individuals/populations served by health care providers. The toolkit is envisioned as a multi-layered tool that provides increasing amounts and depth of information as needed by the user.
To help create the toolkit, each group of attendees first generated (brainstormed), then they prioritized aspects of the toolkit that would help their own organizations, especially frontline staff and channel transportation-vulnerable patients to appropriate sources of assistance.
Conference leading to toolkit, resources and Connection to Care program
The final word of the day belonged to Mr. Kowalik, who urged all attendees to remember what they learned and to carry the torch back to their daily roles. Though the conference lasted only a day, the work continues. Anyone interested can follow along as the transportation toolkit materializes over the next year: Check the Rural Health Network of South Central New York’s (RHN) website at http://www.rhnscny.org. Additionally, most of the material from the conference’s sessions can be accessed at the RHN website. Lastly, proceeds from the conference will go toward RHN’s Connection to Care program, which helps rural individuals with financial needs access vital healthcare-related transportation.