August 1, 2002
COUNTY TRANSPORTATION PROGRAM FOR VETS RECEIVES AWARD
CHARLOTTE, NC -- An innovative and cost-saving partnership created to help transport Mecklenburg County veterans to their doctors and other medical appointments at VA facilities outside the County is being recognized for its success.
The Veterans Medical Assistance Transportation Service (VMATS) program has won a Ralph W. Ketner Employee Productivity Award from the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners (NCACC). The County team that created the program will receive the award August 23 at the NCACC annual conference in Winston-Salem.
The year-old collaboration involves two County entities -- Mecklenburg Transportation System, (MTS) which is part of the County Department of Social Services, and the Veterans Service Office (VSO). The third party in the collaboration is Greyhound Lines, Inc., the private sector bus company.
A growing veteran population in need of the free medical care provided by VA hospitals and clinics, coupled with a limited budget for out-of-county medical transportation, made the program necessary.
In fiscal year 2001, the Veterans Service Office had $30,000 to transport clients in private taxis and vans to places such as Salisbury, Chapel Hill and Durham for medical treatment. The average one-way trip cost $74.57 and 302 trips were provided. Now, with the VMATS program, the average one-way trip cost for fiscal year 2002 is $42.70.
MTS schedules all Greyhound trips via the Greyhound Web site. A client is transported to and from the bus station in Charlotte by a contract taxi or van vendor. Another such vendor transports the client from the destination bus terminal to the hospital or clinic and then back to the bus station for the return trip to Charlotte.
"We are proud to be able to serve the citizens of Mecklenburg County with good reliable service, help in reducing cost, and fostering relationships between the public and private sector," said Vincent Brown, MTS program manager.
The Ketner award is named for the Food Lion, Inc., supermarket co-founder. The award recognizes county employees for their creativity, innovation and commitment to improving county government. Ten awards of $1,000 are given annually.