Easy Lift, a Santa Barbara nonprofit organization, provides transportation for people with limited mobility. It started taking low-income CenCal Health members to their doctor appointments June 1 through the Non-Emergency Accessible Transportation program.
Easy Lift executive director Ernesto Paredes said CenCal needed a new means of transportation when AMR’s contract expired.
“We were able to work out a partnership to secure vehicles and provide transportation on the timely basis that they wanted,” he said. “For us, it’s an expansion of what we already do.”
Easy Lift added four new vehicles and four full-time drivers for the NEAT program, which is expected to provide South Coast residents more than 1,000 rides per month.
“CenCal Health pays for transport services when a patient’s physical condition is such that transport by ordinary means of private or public conveyance is medically contraindicated,” CenCal chief operating officer Paul Jaconette said. “It is important for specialized transportation services to be provided by a skilled and dedicated provider with a mission to serve our patient population.”
In regard to total expenses, the average non-emergency AMR ride costs about $1,400 while Easy Lift runs around $50, an AMR representative said.
Easy Lift offers $7 round-trips and scheduled more than 61,600 Dial-A-Rides in the past year. Paredes said that while rising gas prices increased Easy Lift’s demand, the new public/private partnership will not affect the Dial-A-Ride program.
“This is a true win-win in a number of ways,” he said. “With this collaboration, CenCal is partnering with a trusted local leader in specialized transit. Not only will CenCal members enjoy a reliable, safe and comfortable way to access vital health services, this alliance provides a truly unique example of a successful public/private partnership.”