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Caregivers group seeks Ossipee-based drivers

August 06, 2009
OSSIPEE — Caregivers of the Wolfeboro Area is in dire need of volunteer drivers from the Ossipee area as demand from the elderly population rises.

When the chapter first started in 1987, Coordinator Shirley Bentley said the organization set out to provide the elderly or handicapped population with respite care, rides to doctor's visit or help with chores and meal. However, demand for transportation has skyrocketed and Bentley notes that 99 percent of incoming calls are for rides to and from doctor's visits.

The chapter serves the same area as Huggins Hospital, greater Wolfeboro, Ossipee, Tuftonboro and Alton. Bentley said the hospital's new rehabilitation center in Back Bay has had a great impact on demand as it provides a place for patients to receive physical therapeutic services.

"There's no way for people to get anywhere here," said Bentley regarding the lack of public transportation.

"When we started back in 1987 if we got three calls a week we celebrated. Now however we're getting 12 to 16 calls a day all are for transportation," said Bentley.

Currently, only a handful of volunteers from Wolfeboro are available to provide several Ossipee clients with rides. That means the volunteer drives from the home base in Wolfeboro to Ossipee or as far as West Ossipee, to the hospital in either Wolfeboro or North Conway, then back to Wolfeboro a time and mileage consuming endeavor.

"I would love to find four or five Ossipee drivers," she said.

Caregivers have logs 23,000 miles in the first six months of this year. What the group needs is Ossipee based residents to serve as volunteer drivers for Ossipee residents. Caregivers does pay 40 cents per mile logged, and if the drivers has the patience to fill out the certification to become a Medicaid certified driver, they are eligible to receive 41 cents per mile.

Bentley notes that while bus service is coming to the region next year, the likelihood that the elderly would utilize the bus is slim. She said some of the clients can't get on a bus or will not be willing to be tied to the limited bus schedule. She said the new bus service will be wonderful for shoppers or commuters, but may not serve the needs of the older population.

Interested volunteers are encouraged to call the Caregivers office at 569-6780 or Bentley personally at 569-3714.

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