Published: Mar 02, 2013 07:00 PM
Modified: Mar 01, 2013 02:53 PM
Editor’s note: 1st of 3 parts
It’s time for a “reality check” regarding the transportation needs of those underserved by Chapel Hill Transit, and to consider the plight of Orange County Transportation (OPT), whose funds cannot adequately serve our county’s disabled.
To begin with, a personal story: I need to go to a grocery store, both for groceries and to pick up a prescription. I have just finished a medical appointment. OPT drove me there; now I am on my own.
OPT provides me with transportation to medical appointments, only. Several years ago, its funds were cut, and its services for the disabled are now limited to weekday appointments, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If I need to go anywhere else, I must find my own way.
Chapel Hill Transit’s paratransit service, EZ Rider, provides the disabled with rides to medical appointments, stores, churches, recreation facilities – and any “life-enriching” destinations. Clients are taken to New Hope Commons, but not to Duke Medical Center. EZ Rider’s hours are 5:30 a.m.-10:45 p.m., weekdays, 8:15 a.m.-6:20 p.m. Saturdays, and 11:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Sundays.
But, EZ Rider won’t help me.
I take two public buses to the store where I buy the items I can fit into my cart, wait for my prescription, then hurry to make it home before dusk. I climb down the steps of the fourth bus with my loaded cart, at the stop closest to my home, and cross busy 15-501. There is no pedestrian walkway.
I walk, facing traffic, about 1.4 miles up Old Mt. Carmel Church Road, then the rest of the way home. Walking is not hard for me. But walking along Mt. Carmel Church Road while pulling a cart full of groceries, is difficult and dangerous. Speeding drivers use the road as an alternative to Fordham Boulevard. For a 60-year-old, disabled woman, the trip home is long and unsafe. Hard to believe, too, don’t you think? Yet, I have made this trek many times.
For two weeks, I have not been able to buy frozen food, meat, chicken, fish, fresh vegetables, etc., because these might spoil before I get home. I’ve called people for help – something one who has physical limitations learns to do – but it still takes courage. Too often, no one is available.
For two weeks I have eaten only eggs, canned beans, rice, etc. My body needs better food. I am trying to regain my health, so I can “get off of” Disability and Social Security Insurance.
I want to live a life in which I earn my own living and contribute to my global world. But, how can I improve my health if I lack transportation for my basic survival needs?
Meadowmont Wellness Center gave me a “medically based scholarship” so that I can follow my physician’s and physical therapist’s exercise program. If I can use their pools and gym, I will increase my ability to function physically, and decrease my daily experience of pain.
But, Medicaid will not allow OPT to take me to a “gym;” working out without a doctor present is not considered a medical appointment. Or a medical necessity. EZ Rider’s disabled clients can ride to MMWC seven days/week. Coming Wednesday: The unmet need
All rights reserved. This copyrighted material may not be published, broadcast or redistributed in any manner.