If you are in need of transportation to medical appointments, the Northeast Oregon Public Transit wants you to know it is there to help.

Angie Peters, NEOPT’s Union County public transit manager, said anyone within the county can use the three programs offered by the transit organization, and NEOPT can also connect riders to other transit services.

“Those in outlying communities can come in using Rides to Wellness, for example, then while they’re in town, they can transfer to the paratransit system (that will get them to major areas in La Grande),” Peters told The Observer. “Then the medical (programs) can take them back home.”

Rides to Wellness was established in 2014 to provide medical-related transportation on an on-demand basis to anyone who needs it. The program aims to improve access to primary and urgent care, resulting in fewer missed appointments and enhanced health.

Because the Rides to Wellness program is largely paid for by grants, riders pay only a small fare. Peters said riders are able to travel outside of Union County, up to 140 miles away.

For those who need to travel farther — like to Boise or Portland — NEOPT may be able to arrange a ride through the Angel Flights West, a program using volunteer pilots who transport people to medical appointments. The flight is free to those who qualify and the NEOPT can set it up.

In addition to Rides to Wellness, there are two other NEOPT programs in which the rider can potentially travel for free.

To take advantage of the Veterans Rides to Wellness, those who have served in the armed forces must prove they are veterans through identification or paperwork.

“They cannot be eligible for the Veterans Affairs mileage reimbursement system,” Peters said. “They can call us and we will find out whether they are eligible.”

Peters said the veteran can be any age — she’s even set up rides for those in their 20s — they just need to prove they are a veteran first. This service also gives veterans rides to Portland or Boise at no cost, she said.

NEOPT’s third medical transportation program provides for people on the Oregon Health Plan.

Peters said the NEOPT is happy to see if it can help anyone who needs a ride.

“We try to fit them into whatever program is available,” she said. “We try with a referral with the Angel Flight or Greyhound or find community resources to help them. We even work with churches.”

For more information, or to schedule a ride, contact NEOPT at 541-963-2877.

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer

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