Brick Township will soon launch a dialysis transportation service that has been planned for more than a year, funded through a federal grant program.
The township, last month, formally accepted $200,000 in grant funding from a federal omnibus spending bill to purchase two handicap-accessible shuttle buses that will be used for the program. The funding was requested by former U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) while he represented Brick Township before redistricting.The bill that included the grant was eventually signed into law by President Joe Biden.
“We’re hoping to start it by November 1,” said township Business Administrator Joanne Bergin.
One shuttle bus is due to arrive imminently, said Bergin. The township also recently advertised jobs seeking bus drivers with a commercial driver’s license to drive for the Senior Services Department, which will be running the shuttle, as well as bus attendants. The program is expected to eventually be expanded to two buses to accommodate the significant need for this particular service, Bergin said. Ultimately, one bus will serve the northern portion of the town and one the southern portion.
“We’re very eager, and we have a waiting list,” said Bergin. “We have folks who heard about it and signed up.”
Last year, when the idea was first announced, Bergin and other officials said dialysis transportation was one of the most-requested services when Brick, through a separate grant process, was able to purchase a small fleet of Senior Shuttle buses. While the shuttles have grown exceedingly popular with seniors, the hours involved in receiving dialysis treatments just wasn’t a feasible option, though the need was clear. This led Bergin and her colleagues to develop a business plan in hopes of catching the attention of a higher-placed government agency that could fund such an effort.
Bergin said at the time that seniors who cannot drive were missing crucial treatments.
“A lot of seniors need to go for six hours, but they can only go for three because they can’t get a ride at the right time,” she said. “So some people were not getting treatment at all, while others were not getting sufficient treatment.”
A year later, led by Senior Services Director Zulma Soto, routes have been mapped out and scheduled have been established in order to provide the transportation.
“We’ve done a lot of work with the zones – we’ve done transportation before, so that’s not a big lift for us – and Zulma’s been in touch with the dialysis centers to work out the timing,” Bergin said.
Editor’s Note: Details on the jobs advertised for bus drivers and attendants are available at the township’s Human Resources website.