Many older Culver residents may not be aware of it, but public transportation is available to them both within Culver, and to medical (and other) appointments outside town.
This according to Jackie Wright of the Marshall County Council on Aging, who spoke recently to attendees at Culver’s REAL Services daily meal for older adults. The agency, based at 1305 W. Harrison Street in Plymouth (online at marshallcountycouncilonaging.org), offers public transportation each Wednesday morning until around 1 p.m. in Culver (transportation is offered within Plymouth every day, for residents there), by way of one of the Council’s eight vans, for a small fee.
Fares (donations) for transportation are $2 per boarding, with $1 each additional stop. For those 60 or over, Title III Older Americans Act funds are available.
Those interested are encouraged to call the Council at 547-936-9904 or toll-free at 1-866-936-9904 (or email firstname.lastname@example.org ) Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to noon. Twenty-four hour notice is recommended, and wheel chair accessible vehicles are available (personal attendants, service animals, and/or oxygen equipment ride free of charge).
Transportation is available outside of town on a more limited basis by arrangement with the Council, said Wright. Trips, for example, to Plymouth are available on an appointment basis, though mileage fees may apply. Wright emphasized out-of-town transportation is aimed at medical-related or other appointments, rather than shopping trips which take service away from Culver-based businesses.
“The goal is not to take you from Culver to Kroger’s (grocery in Plymouth), and then not support the local Park N Shop,” she noted.
Asked by REAL Services site volunteer Jeanette Geiselman if Culver might be able to obtain five-days-per-week transportation service, Wright said more Culver riders on Wednesdays might facilitate added days of service being offered.
“The problem is,” she said, “you don’t get paid if you don’t get riders. I’m still paying with no riders...right now only a few people use it. Anything is possible. We kind of go with the need.”
Wright was quick to emphasize, however, that the Council will work with Culver residents to make out-of-town appointments on other days.
“This isn’t to say that if you live in Culver and need to go to Fort Wayne, Warsaw, or Plymouth, we can’t take you on a Monday. Medical-related appointments are a priority.”
Audience member Pat Birk, of Culver, praised the transportation service as having helped her a great deal. “They’ve taken me to Indianapolis more than once,” she noted, “and (son) Bill as well.”
Wright said the Council’s fleet of public transportation vehicles has dramatically increased in the past 24 months, in part because of federal stimulus dollars, through which two additional vehicles were added. With other funding awards in addition, the Council added a total of five vehicles in the past two years, she said.
“Our goal is to get every vehicle on the road eight to ten hours a day, five to six days a week.”
She added that United Way-provided funds help with gasoline, while some funding comes from the Marshall County commissioners, some from REAL Services, some has come via an Indiana Department of Transportation grant, and other sources.
“We have excellent drivers,” Wright said. “Very compassionate. Some people have the job for the right reasons, and they do.”
Wright also discussed some of the ins and outs of ever-changing Medicare insurance plans in some detail. She emphasized yearly re-examination of each individual’s plan, to be sure sufficient coverage remains active, adding that November through the end of December this year is the window to make changes, though that time period will change next year.
The Council, she explained, is a SHIP site (State Health Insurance assistance Program, through the Indiana Department of Insurance) and encouraged Medicare users to contact the Council for assistance with their plans, in addition to looking into available plans by calling 1-800-452-4800 or visiting www.medicare.in.gov .
“We (at the Council) have SHIP volunteers who can meet you at the office...and help you look at insurance. There are lots of options.”