Dauphin County nonprofit key player in local medical transport
Transportation might not come to mind first — or at all — when thinking of the Center For Community Building Inc.
But it's effective mobility management that put the Susquehanna Township-based nonprofit on Dauphin County's go-to list of vendors.
Since 2005, the CCB, which specializes in workforce support and non-emergency medical transportation services, has run the county's medical assistance transportation program.
Not only has it increased utilization of the federally funded program through public outreach, it has done so in spite of shrinking budgets for the entitlement program.
When CCB took over from Capital Area Transit, there were more than 2,200 distinct users in the county. Including shared ride, mass transit and mileage reimbursements, there were nearly 84,500 trips in 2004-05, according to the state Department of Public Welfare.
In the 2012-13 fiscal year, there were 5,302 distinct users in Dauphin County and total trips of 131,457, said Dan Eisenhauer, the county's mental health director.
And while that third-party contract provides no direct tax contribution to the county, it has helped the local economy, said county Commissioner George Hartwick III.
"Any time you can diversify the mode of transportation and figure out ways to engage all forms, it provides an economic boost to any one of those companies," he said. "It (also) helps ensure that the amount of money we have is extended for more riders."
CCB has just two transport vehicles and seven employees. It relies on a network of community partners, including taxi and bus companies, to fulfill service requests. That, in turn, boosts business for those transportation providers.
Meeting the need
Access to health care services is not just about having insurance, said William Peterson, CCB's president and CEO. Transportation to those appointments is just as vital.
"We service folks who lack adequate transportation or where it's nonexistent," said Peterson, who started the business in 1997 with his wife, Jeannine Peterson. Jeannine Peterson has been CEO of Hamilton Health Center since 2000. CCB runs regular trips to the Harrisburg center.
Hartwick credits the success of the MATP program to William Peterson's level of engagement in the community. He understands all forms of public transportation and how to best match clients with the least-costly modes, Hartwick said.
Employment and child care are just as dependent on transportation, Peterson said. From 1999 to 2005, CCB ran a flexible access to jobs program aimed at providing affordable transportation services for welfare recipients and other low-income Harrisburg residents transitioning into the workforce.
During that span, the program provided more than 90,000 passenger trips to more than 750 Harrisburg residents working in Dauphin and Cumberland counties.
Running the MATP program is CCB's primary business. It covers all organizational costs and provides a small administrative fee.
Moving forward, Peterson said, he hopes to expand his service network into transportation service for county veterans, which will build the company's name and maybe lead to more ancillary business.
CCB runs the occasional service for the Capital Area Intermediate Unit or other organizations that have a special event requiring coordinated transportation.
"The plan for medical transportation for veterans is a realistic possibility," Hartwick said. "We're working with Bill and the VA on trying to structure a funding source to be able to do that."
With help from CCB, the county also is trying to address access issues as it relates to transportation and health care in its northern end.
To diversify his revenue stream, Peterson is considering work tied to workers' compensation insurance. He also is hoping to get the welfare-to-work program back and attract other business opportunities.
"Not all jobs are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Second and third shifts pay better," he said.
The potential is there, given the lack of coordinated public transit in Central Pennsylvania in the evening and overnight.
His call center employs three people and fields about 500 calls per day. Peterson is planning to add two people to handle a dedicated business line, he said.
The latter has him considering the possibility of for-profit status.
Moving to a new facility also could be in the works. CCB has been operating in the 3500 block of North Sixth Street since 1999.
More about MATP
County MATPs provide bus passes or reimbursements to eligible consumers to cover the fare for public or private transit services.
Mileage reimbursements also are provided to consumers who have access to private vehicles but cannot meet their own transportation needs. The rate of reimbursement is 12 cents per mile.
If public transit is not available or is not appropriate for the rider, county MATPs also provide rides on paratransit vehicles. Those vehicles usually transport multiple riders with different pick-up and drop-off locations.