Hospitals to subsidize van service for elderly

January 31, 1993|By Ed Brandt | Ed Brandt,Staff Writer

Seventeen metropolitan hospitals have entered into an agreement with the Baltimore County Department of Aging to help subsidize CountyRide, which counts among its duties driving the elderly and disabled to hospitals.

CountyRide operates 28 vans, including 13 with wheelchair lifts. Funding for CountyRide, which last year cost $911,000 to operate, comes from federal, state and county sources, and ridership fees.

"This agreement will help reduce the burden on county taxpayers," said Dr. Philip Pushkin, director of the county agency. "We've cut the county's contribution percentage from about 50 percent to about 20 through various fund-raising methods like this."

The county's contribution fell from more than $400,000 at its peak to $183,000 last year. Among other things, the department now allowsadvertising in the vans.

"We help the hospitals by transporting their patients door to door," Dr. Pushkin said. "They've agreed to pay us according to the number of patients we carry to them."

More than 50 percent of the cancer patients treated by the Greater Baltimore Medical Center are carried by CountyRide.

"CountyRide helps keep people out of extended-care facilities," Dr. Pushkin said. "This is a big-bucks saving."

Last year, CountyRide transported more than 4,700 patients and made about 64,000 medical trips.

"We're going to the people we serve and ask them to share the cost," Dr. Pushkin said. "Individual doctors and private medical centers will also be asked to help out."

CountyRide round trips from any county site to any hospital in the area cost $5 for elderly or disabled riders. CountyRide prefers a notice of at least 48 hours. Information: 887-2080.

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