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May 10, 2018

Deer Island residents tackle medical transportation needs

The board of directors of the Deer Isle's Island Health & Wellness Foundation has tasked the foundation's executive director, Anne West, with developing a medical transportation system and increase transportation resources to Deer Isle-Stonington.

Island Advantages reported the initiative came in response to an acute need on Deer Isle for transportation to and from medical appointments. The foundation has raised $50,000 to be used over a period of five years to address medical transportation needs.

According to an Island Health & Wellness Foundation news release, in a 2014 survey among affiliates and partners of Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems, 42% of respondents identified transportation as an issue preventing access to healthcare in Hancock County, behind lack of insurance and out-of-pocket expenses. And the 2015 Maine Shared Community Health Needs Assessment identified transportation first among the "top five factors" affecting health in Hancock County.

In response, the foundation initially partnered with Friends in Action, a nonprofit in Ellsworth that offers free services, including transportation, to residents of Hancock County. Island Health & Wellness Foundation and Friends in Action established an FIA satellite office in Stonington. Friends in Action provided training and insurance for a local transportation coordinator and volunteers, and matched clients needing rides with available volunteer drivers.

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