Mississippians can now get free Uber rides to appointments at their county health departments. The program is part of the Mississippi State Department of Health’s efforts to reduce the number of people who do not show up to doctor’s appointments.
Mississippi’s county health departments have about a 50% no-show rate. That is “excessively high for health care,” State Health Officer Dr. Daniel Edney said at a virtual press conference on Nov. 1.
Edney said he does not have an estimate for how many people will use the new Transportation to Health program, but predicted it will benefit a lot of people who currently have transportation issues and miss their appointments.
“The potential is to double the number of patients we see at the (county) health departments,” he said. “… At the health department, we are intentionally overbooking (appointments) because we know right now half our folks won’t be able to show.”
People can call MSDH at 855-767-0170 to schedule appointments at the county health department and an Uber ride at the same time instead of downloading the Uber app. MSDH does not limit the number of rides a person can take for free, MSDH Chief of Community Health, Clinical Services and Health Services Dr. Victor Sutton said.
“If they have services that require them to come to the health department, they’ll be eligible for transportation,” he said at a virtual press conference on Nov. 1.
For regular Uber rides, a person may have to wait a few minutes for a driver to pick them up, but Sutton said Mississippians will not have to wait for the Uber ride to the health department because people have to make appointments to get transportation.
A federal grant is funding up to $1 million for MSDH to use within a year for the Uber services.
The funds might not last the whole year, but Edney said he would see that as a win. If the Transportation to Health program proves to be beneficial for Mississippians, MSDH could extend it and even partner with another ride-share service if Uber does not want to renew the
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