Program provides much-needed transportation for people needing social services

May 28, 2019 05:40 PM

Getting to where you have to go is often taken for granted. However, for people who rely on social services to stay healthy, it can be a challenge.

We're probably all familiar with Medicab. It's a service that takes people on Medicaid to and from medical appointments. However, what about getting to social support programs, the food bank, even parole visits. That's where a program called Circulation comes in.


"Every day clean is a wonderful day. You know, it's a miracle," said John Vardine.

The 49-year-old man is rebuilding his life. On parole for a drug-related conviction, this father of two says he's looking forward to a drug-free future. That's thanks to enough support through counseling, self-help groups and Circulation.

"I've been out in Saratoga County for a while. I was living there before. I was sent to Albany. I'm familiar with a lot of people out there. I'm familiar with available meetings out there. My support network is larger out there," he explained.

Circulation provides transportation for people like Vardine, who rely on social services  - and not just for medical appointments like the long-established Medicab.

"So we cover everything that basically the Medicabs don't cover so that are affecting a person's health as well. Not just doctors' appointments, so NA meetings, AA meetings, support groups, the pharmacy, food, housing," explained Caitlin Collins with the Alliance for Better Health.

Collins is the point person at the Alliance for Better Health, which partners with 52 community-based organizations in the Capital Region. Clients call her, and she arranges their rides through Lyft.

Since no one knows if the client is a Medicaid recipient, there's no stigma many recipients say they often feel with Medicab.

For Vardine, who's now living at Altamont House, part of the Peter Young Housing in Albany - it's enlarged his world and says it's key in helping him transition to life outside of prison.

"Well, before, I was walking, taking the bus. I was limited to the places I could get to, especially self-help meetings," said Vardine.

Seven-hundred people currently use the Circulation program. It's funded by both the state and federal government. The Alliance for Better Health says more than 3,000 rides have been booked since Circulation started a year ago.

"It's an opportunity to get to where I need to get to. As I say, it's life changing," said Vardine.

MORE INFORMATION: Circulation: Alliance for Better Health


Benita Zahn

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