POMEROY — A new van has joined the fleet of those available at the Meigs County Council on Aging for residents 60 and older.
The van, a 2014 Toyota Sienna, will serve as a transport for anyone who needs a ride to the doctor’s office, a hair appointment, or any type of appointment in the Ohio Valley area, sometimes outside Meigs County.
Beth Shaver, the executive director, said that while the van was purchased with the council’s own money about two weeks ago, it is not in use just yet, as it has to be compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, originally enacted by Congress in 1990.
“Reliable transportation is extremely important because that (carries) precious cargo,” she said. “The staff here have done wonderful job maintaining them.”
Until now, the newest vehicle to the fleet was a 2005 Ford Econovan purchased in 2004, with the oldest in the fleet a 1999 Dodge Caravan. While the newest vehicle is still welcome, Shaver said that the other vehicles in the fleet are still reliable. Some features that must be installed in the wheelchair-accessible van include a fire extinguisher and a biohazard kit, among others. The vans are all driven by designated drivers with special training.
Dan Dunham, who does marketing for the council, has designed a new logo that will go on all of the vans to revamp the council’s image.
“We’re trying to start to appeal to the baby boomer generation, which is a different group,” Shaver said.
Shaver said she wants the public to realize that the goal of the council is to keep people in their own homes as long as possible, as opposed to immediately going to an assisted living facility if they’re initially not able to do certain tasks like they once were able.
“It’s very hard for most people to make that first phone call here saying, ‘I need your help,’ if you’ve been independent all you life and never had to have help cleaning or getting meals fixed. If you see physical capabilities declining, they call here for help,” Shaver said. “We’re just here to help. Using our services doesn’t mean you’re incapacitated in any way. We’re just here to help.”
Another main activity of the vans is to deliver Meals on Wheels, which is special meals prepared five days a week for those 60 and older who are essentially home bound. There are also meals that are served in the cafeteria on site, including a hot bar, a salad bar and a separate senior hot meal, which must be eaten on site as per the rules of the funding that allows for the meals. Shaver explained that this rule is instilled so that anyone who takes food home doesn’t accidentally eat it days later if it’s spoiled, potentially chokes, or any other hazards that may occur from eating alone.
“It’s not a punishment, it’s a protection,” Shaver said.
According to John Mattson, associate director, for anyone who comes to eat meals on campus, seniors 60 and older are suggested to give a donation of $3, with costs for others at $6 for the senior hot meal and $5 for the salad or hot bar. All money raised goes to supplementing the senior nutritional programs. The council has raises money with baking and catering.
But while the vans are for residents 60 and older, Dunham wants people to know there are other services available to the community, including a gym on site that is $10 a month for seniors 60 and over and $20 a month for anyone ages 18-59. Other services include homemaker services, wherein someone can come out and clean for someone unable to, laundry services and even services regarding insurance and medicare.
In the long run, Shaver and Mattson said that one of the advantages of providing these services for seniors is the lower cost to families.
“A person gets Meals on Wheels five days a week, has a homemaker once a week for a couple hours, and trips to the doctor and pharmacy (with the vans) is about $5,000 a week, which is paid from local levy dollars and programs,” Shaver said. “If you compare that to keeping a person in a nursing home for a month, nursing home care, we’re saying $5,000 for a year, with some nursing homes, at the very cheapest, are about $5,000 for a month.”
“Every single one of them is saving about $50,000, $60,000 a year,” Mattson said.
Shaver again emphasized how grateful the council is to have a new vehicle to help the community.
“We’re really happy to have it, and we really hope all passengers will be happy to ride it,” she said.
For any questions, reach the council at 740-992-2161.
Reach Lindsay Kriz at 740-992-2155 EXT. 2555.