by Tom Kenney, Mobility Manager, Milwaukee County Transit System
The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) New Freedom Program, which provides mobility management services, travel training and barrier removal projects, has partnered with the Southeastern region of Wisconsin Public Health Nursing.
The Public Health Nurse Residency program is sponsored by city and county public health departments in Southeastern Wisconsin. It provides new public health professionals with training essential to public health practices. The program provides six training sessions, including “Access to and Linkage with Clinical Care.” During this session, the MCTS New Freedom staff provides information on the different public transit programs that are available: group bus orientation (Freedom on Wheels) programs, travel training, special fare programs for seniors and individuals with disabilities, and paratransit services.
In addition to transit, the training session also includes representatives from legal, health and community advocates as well as departments servicing seniors and people with disabilities. The program prevents ‘what if scenarios’ that public health professionals encounter, including helping clients find transportation to access care.
The connection between the MCTS New Freedom staff and representatives from the Public Health Nurse Residency program was made during a planning session to update the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Human Services Transportation Coordination Plan.
Mobility management programs need to advance the importance of public transit to service providers who may not fully appreciate the connection between our two distinctively different industries.
The MCTS New Freedom Program has adopted a policy of never saying no when given the opportunity to talk public transit in the community. Whether it’s an area school or an international conference on career development and transition; we say yes. Whether it’s a senior center, sheltered workshop or an area agency who provide orientation services to newly arrived refugees, we say yes. Whether it’s a money matters conference sponsored by AARP of Wisconsin or a resource fair for the homeless at Marquette University, we say yes!
Often times our participation seems out of place, but as the partnership grows, the connectivity becomes very clear. Over 80 community outreach programs were conducted in 2017, with many events already scheduled for 2018.