Van needs help

Published 7:33 am Wednesday, August 2, 2006

By By KERRY WHIPPLE BEAN – publisher
Escambia County health advocates are hoping to find a way to save the day after a nonprofit was forced to end a free van service that took children to medical appointments.
Kid One Transport suspended operations in Escambia County as of Monday, officials with the Birmingham-based nonprofit said this week.
That strategy will involve procuring a van - either the current one or a new one - and raising local funds to continue the program.
Harrell and local doctors and medical officials have asked the Kid One board to consider allocating the van to Escambia County so that the program can continue locally. The board is scheduled to meet Friday, Harrell said.
The Brewton-based van served children in Escambia, Conecuh and Monroe counties. The program was funded in the tri-county area through donations from hospitals, organizations and individuals.
Kid One serves counties across the state, but the tri-county area was not the only one to lose service this week.
Kid One officials said their expenses were simply too high, mainly as a result of the loss of three major funders totaling $472,000; increase in fuel costs, maintenance fees and an aging fleet; and not having service areas that are cost efficient.
Brewton area residents raised money in recent years to help fund the program.
Cindy Waldrep, whose All Children Together organization helped raise the funds to get the van three years ago, emphasized that the money local residents donated to the project did not go to waste over the years the van has been in operation. &#8220Every penny they raised stayed in Brewton,” she said.
Area residents and organizations did not raise enough money needed last year to fund the program, so the Birmingham office made up the difference, Waldrep said.
Harrell said she hopes local residents will step up and open their pocketbooks again if given the opportunity to help Kid One continue. If the Kid One board does not release the van to Escambia County, Harrell said the group could seek support from local car dealers.
Anyone interested in making a donation or getting involved can call Harrell at 296-5101.
Most children - and some pregnant women - who use the Kid One service are at risk and have been referred to health professionals outside the county.
According to Kid One statistics, the van serving the tri-county area transported 41 clients from January to June 2006, with 37 families served. There were 135 local transports and 38 long-distance transports, with an average of .82 transports per day over the six months.
Kid One said the following resources are available in Escambia County for clients who receive Medicaid: