FORT SMITH, Ark. – Mercy Health Foundation has been awarded $27,500 from The Degen Foundation in Fort Smith to create a Non-Emergent Patient Transportation Program. The gift, combined with other donations, will facilitate the purchase of a handicap accessible vehicle to provide safe, reliable transportation to patients who otherwise would not have a means of transport to and from doctors’ appointments and treatment.
Bennie Westphal, president of the Mercy Health Foundation Board of Directors, said, “Mercy is truly honored to have received such a generous gift to support this new program. So many patients in our care will benefit from the generosity of the The Degen Foundation.”
Juli Stec, executive director of Post-Acute Care services, will oversee the program at Mercy Fort Smith and says The Degen Foundation’s generosity will eliminate worry for patients who may not drive or have access to transportation.
“This program will help ensure individuals are not forced to forgo medical treatment or therapy due to a lack of available transportation,” Stec said. “By providing transportation to these individuals, they will be able to receive the medical care they need, when they need it. We’re grateful to The Degen Foundation for helping us improve the access to healthcare for our communities.” Mercy Fort Smith currently spends more than $40,000 a month transporting patients, which does not include ambulance transports.
The Degen Foundation provides funds, both by way of grants and special services, to promote health and education with the primary emphasis in assisting the needs of the uninsured and underserved population. Tom Webb, executive director of The Degen Foundation, said the partnership made sense for the foundation. “The Degen Foundation is pleased to be assisting Mercy in such a worthwhile endeavor. As our mission states, ‘Providing for our region’s health care needs by investing in practical solutions today with a vision for tomorrow,’ this gift can and will make a difference.” The Degen Foundation gifts more than $250,000 each year to the Fort Smith area to serve those without adequate access to health care.
The new transportation program is scheduled to begin fall 2015.