A new federal grant will soon make transportation more accessible for pregnant women and mothers with young children, as part of a larger effort to help babies in northwest Ohio make it to their first birthdays.
The $133,000 will subsidize rides for some low-income women in high risk ZIP codes to use Toledo Area Regional Transit Authority for the “Mommy and Me Ride for Free” program.
“We are looking to fill gaps for people, specifically pregnant women and women with young kids who lack access to transportation,” said Carly Salamone, assistant director of Northwest Ohio Pathways HUB, a program through the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.
Women who are Medicaid eligible can get transportation to medical appointments through taxi services, but it requires making appointments 48 hours in advance. That isn’t always convenient when situations arise suddenly, Ms. Salamone said.
“Now if they have a sick kid, they can call TARPS service and get them to the pediatrician that day,” she said.
The program also will provide rides for nonmedical reasons, including trips to the grocery store or appointments with the Women, Infants, and Children nutrition program.
The Federal Transit Administration will award the funds to the Ohio Department of Transportation on behalf of the Hospital Council of Northwest Ohio.
The program will be open to women enrolled in the Pathways HUB program who live in high risk ZIP codes identified by the state as at increased risk of infant mortality. They are: 43604, 43605, 43607, and 43608.
Better access to health care, healthful foods, and other resources fits into the larger goal of decreasing Lucas County’s infant mortality rate, Ms. Salamone said.
“This contributes to the goal of making sure our babies are healthy and making it to their first birthdays,” she said.
TARTA General Manager Jim Gee said he is excited to work with the agency to address the issue of infant mortality.
“Transportation should not be a barrier to good health care,” he said. “There is a need in our community for better care and access for mothers and their infants.”
The funding is expected to cover about 10,000 round trip rides, Ms. Salamone said, with the hope of expanding the program in the future. A start date for the program has not yet been determined.