Lebanon VAMC offers veterans Uber program to medical care

Ed Gruver//June 5, 2023

South Central Pennsylvania veterans can benefit from a new Lebanon VAMC transportation program. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

Lebanon VAMC offers veterans Uber program to medical care

Ed Gruver//June 5, 2023

An initiative which provides supplemental transportation is available to eligible South Central Pennsylvania veterans. 

The initiative, VA Uber Health Connect, provides access to and from medical care for veterans in South Central Pennsylvania. Survey feedback from 2,300 veterans between March 2022 to January 2023 indicates that 83% of veterans stated they would not have been able to access their medical care without the program. 

National Lead of VA Uber Health Connect Indra Sandal said the VA Uber Health Connect Initiative bridges the transportation gap by ensuring veterans have reliable transportation for their health care needs. 

“By offering ride sharing as an additional means of transportation, VA is helping veterans receive access to the best and soonest possible care — while still achieving cost savings,” Sandal said in a statement. 

Launched as pilot program in 2022 at 10 VA Medical Centers, the initiative completed more than 30,000 Uber rides across 408,529 miles for veterans from January 2022 to March 2023. Along with increasing access and improving clinical engagement, the rides have saved the VA an estimated $35 million. 

Faster emergency department and inpatient discharges are part of the cost savings, along with closing the gap on an estimated 28,000 missed appointments. The program is expanding this year to nine new Veteran Integrated Service Networks and 60 VAMCs. 

According to the American Hospital Association, transportation challenges prevent 3.6 million people in the United States from obtaining medical care. Social isolation, underlying medical conditions and a greater need for frequent clinician visits are among transportation barriers faced by veterans, children, and older adults. 

Jennifer Stevey, Mobility Manager at the local Veterans hospital, called the initiative a life-altering program that offers care to vulnerable veterans the moment they need it. 

“It also advances our ability to offer more accessible, equitable health care to our local Veteran community but it’s very important that veterans understand how the program works,” said Stevey. “They must allow VA to schedule their ride with Uber; otherwise, they may be responsible for the cost of the trip.”