The Importance to the CHIP of Referring Organizations

2Q 2018: A coalition of local health care providers have recently published the Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) as their proposal to improve the overall health of area citizens. "Access" to health care is one of the issues addressed in the CHIP.
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  • Intensive lobbying efforts by the Worcester Regional Transit Authority (WRTA), its union and riders have not persuaded the Massachusetts legislature to add an additional $8 million to the state's budget to fund all the Regional Transit Authorities. At this date it looks as if there will be only a little "extra" transportation money, if any, in the Fiscal 2019 budget now on the Governor's desk. The legislature did include a couple of possibilities which open the RTAs to negotiate with the Mass. Dept. of Transportation for additional funding. The WRTA Advisory Board will pursue these possibilities and delay any service cuts or fare increases until this Fall. These actions, if necessary to produce a balanced WRTA budget, have serious consequences for the riders living in towns southwest of Worcester and those riding on weekends. Low-income riders would be hurt the most.
  • TFT recently received $1,000 from the Worcester Food Bank Foundation to End Hunger and $1,000 from the National Instruments Corporation in Austin, Texas through an employee award designated by a TFT family member.
  • TFT has added Everyday Miracles as our latest partner charity. Everyday Miracles works with recovering substance users and is associated with Spectrum, the organization which runs local methadone clinics in Worcester and in Millbury.
  • Planned Parenthood is no longer one of the TFT partner charities. (Free bus passes were not needed by their clients.) In its place, TFT has added a pair of charities which provide free business clothing to new employees. These are Dress for Success (females) and Standing Up 4 Men (males). TFT expects to service these two organizations primarily with its Job Fare Kits.

The Importance to the CHIP of Referring Organizations

A coalition of local health care providers have recently published the Greater Worcester Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) as their proposal to improve the overall health of area citizens. ” Access” to health care is one of the issues addressed in the CHIP. The following comments are intended to encourage trusts and foundations to take the broadest possible perspective on the issue of “access” by recognizing in their grant reviews the importance of organizations that refer patients to the various community health care services: 
 
Whether addressing the opiate crisis or mental health, the priority of a health care-oriented foundation is to support the primary providers whose services directly address substance use or specific mental health illnesses. Recruitment of sufficient numbers of health professionals is vital for Worcester. Worcester is an important Gateway City within the Commonwealth, actively participating and contributing to the state’s economy as a desirable location for innovators, entrepreneurs, and businesses, and a place where hundreds of thousands of people choose to live and work. It is therefore no surprise that m aintaining local “access” to skilled physicians, nurses and counselors is essential for several of the CHIP objectives. TFT agrees.
Our focus is one aspect of “access,” i.e., transportation. Tasks for Transit is focused on potential clients who have either no income or a low income. Individuals need assistance to engage with a health care provider. They need free “transportation” to get from their residence to the site where the relevant service is provided. This transportation issue can even arise when the medical provider comes to the patient’s own neighborhood. One woman went to a free medical clinic at her neighborhood center ( South Worcester Neighborhood Center ). After getting her free medical exam, she was told by the doctor that she must go across the city to get a head scan. In this actual case, because the Neighborhood Center director was able to provide her with a free WRTA day pass she could get to that appointment and also return home. 
Available transportation for essential access to skilled physicians, nurses and counselors is critical for the economically disadvantaged because their lack of funds discourages them from getting help. If an organization can give the potential patient a free bus pass, it removes a significant barrier to accomplishing CHIP objectives and benefits.
Referral to a relevant health care services of clients by a non-health care organization is also important for attaining the CHIP objectives. In this case, it is not the service provider that transports the potential patient to the service site. It is the organization referring the patient. Examples of referring organizations are neighborhood centers, homeless shelters, government agencies, refugee assistance groups, domestic violence services, veterans’ services, and many others. These “other ” organizations need the transportation support provided by TFT (Tasks for Transit) when clients are sent to substance use or mental health facilities. Referring organizations may be secondary, but are still important. Their role should be recognized and commended.
Another role of these non-health organizations is addressing the impact of social determinants on the overall health of individuals, particularly in the context of CHIP objectives. One of their most important goals is prevention of negative consequences. Examples include the Safe Homes Program at The Bridge for LGBT Youth . Another is the Standup for Kids Program for homeless youth. Yet another is Hope Coalition Programs, which targets youth violence. The same goal of prevention of negative consequences is supported by organizations such as Straight Ahead Ministries and Dismas House, which deal with ex-felons, some of whom have a high risk of becoming repeat substance abusers as they reenter society.
TFT partners with many of these non-health care charities so their clients can get free transportation assistance for the full range of services that impact their health and quality of life in Worcester.

Stats from the March 2015 launch of Tasks for Transit through July 2018

5
Partner Charities
$ 13556
Spent on Bus Fares
4030
Bus Passes Dispensed

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4Q 2019: TFT’s plan for 2019 was to continue its steady growth by adding four Partner Charities to its network. As has been done for the previous two years, one more was added during each quarter of 2019. TFT ended 2019 with 30 Partner Charities.

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3Q 2019: In April 2019, the Greater Worcester Research Bureau published a report analyzing the possibility of the WRTA running a “fare free” bus system. Other cities, e.g., Portland, Oregon, are doing this or have done it in the past. Clearly, a fare-free WRTA would be a great benefit for those living in poverty.

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