Brick officials this week announced the start of a new service aimed at filling a little-known – but very serious – need in the community that had gone unfilled for years.
Mayor Lisa Crate announced the commencement of Brick Township’s Senior Dialysis Transportation service on Wednesday. The dialysis transportation is an expansion of the township’s popular Senior Shuttle service and was started to ensure seniors have “convenient and reliable access to essential healthcare services.”
The need for dialysis services became apparent to officials during the process of starting the Senior Shuttle as well as relocating the senior center to its own building. Elderly residents who can no longer drive, but require lengthy dialysis appointments, said they sometimes could not make the appointments for the life-or-death treatments, or had to pay taxi services to reach offices with high rates and reliability issues. Many of the township’s eldest population cannot access ride-sharing services such as Uber or Lyft due to a lack of smartphone accounts, and no public transportation options had been available.
“Our needs assessment for Brick Township’s seniors had this as our number one need,” Joanne Bergin, the township’s business administrator, said when the program was first proposed. “We meet a lot of their basic needs, like food, companionship, assistance with getting to doctors’ appointments – but we could never do dialysis because of the enormous amount of time involved in that. It was like we could only do dialysis or everything but dialysis.”
Making matters even more complicated, the influx of summer residents to the township often puts pressure on local dialysis centers.
The conundrum led township officials to seek grant funding for buses and drivers, and ultimately received funding in the 2022 federal omnibus spending bill through a proposal from U.S. Rep. Andy Kim (D-3) who previously represented Brick Township. The $250,000 included in the bill funded the purchase of two new dedicated shuttles for dialysis transportation, drivers and a medical aid. The first bus arrived in town late last year.
“We are beyond excited that the Dialysis Transportation Service is officially transporting seniors in need to their life-sustaining treatments,” said Crate. “This initiative is a testament to the commitment of this administration and the Township Council to the well-being of our senior citizens.”
The Senior Dialysis Transportation service will provide residents ages 60 and over with door-to-door transportation to dialysis appointments within Brick Township. The service utilizes a wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus with specially trained employees who can provide assistance to patients with mobility issues. There is no charge to patients to use the service. Bergin said the township has worked with local dialysis providers to coordinate schedules.
“With nearly a quarter of Brick’s residents aged 60 and over, the need for services is significant,” said Zulma Soto, Director of Brick Township Senior Services. “Dialysis transportation has been an expressed need by residents requiring dialysis treatments to maintain their health but lack the ability to travel to appointments on their own.”
Those interested in the service may contact Brick Senior Services at 732-920-8686 for additional information on the Senior Dialysis Transportation service.
The Senior Shuttle service is a separate program that began in 2019. The Senior Shuttle provides free transportation to the Senior Center, shopping areas and more to residents ages 60 and over. The township acquired two wheelchair-accessible buses for the program – one acquired through a grant and the other purchased by the township. Anyone wishing to utilize the Senior Shuttle should call Senior Services at 732-920-8686 at least two days in advance of an appointment. Seating is limited and is filled on a first-come, first-served basis.