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AfterCare’s Free Round-Trip Transportation Services: A Retrospective

January 26, 2023

Trudging to a doctor’s appointment on the NYC subway in winter might be the last thing someone wants to do when they need specific medical care. Many New Yorkers (and especially those with chronic conditions such as Long COVID) spend valuable time, money, and mental effort simply to travel to their care facilities. To address this issue, the AfterCare programintroduced a free, round-trip transportation service for anyone who has a medical appointment within New York City and wasunder 25 miles one-way. Clients could call the AfterCare hotline at 212-268-4319 and press 4 to speak with an AfterCare Navigator, who could schedule an appointment with a Post-COVID care center or a primary care provider, and then book a ride for them.

Offered through H+H vendor RideHealth, AfterCare’stransportation program was launched on December 1, 2022, and ended in February 2023. The program accommodated clients from all languages, as well as those with disabilities, regardless of ability to pay or immigration status. Furthermore, all medical or medically-related appointments qualified – including dental and vision visits. (To note, it was not a requirement that clients must be diagnosed with Long COVID to utilize this service – they were connected as long as they called through the AfterCare hotline).

Quick and accessible transportation – whether monetarily or disability-aware – continues to be a crucial component of getting people the care they need to recover from COVID-19, Long COVID, or other conditions.

Because public transportation and ride-sharing carry the risk of COVID-19 exposure, many New Yorkers might need to seek out other forms of transportation when they’re sick. However, not many households in New York City have access to a private vehicle. According to the New York City Economic Development Corporation, only about 45% of households in the city own a car, which is less than half of the population. Taxi cabs or rideshare services like Uber or Lyft can be more than 10-15 times the cost of a one-way subway ride for the same distance and excludes those who cannot bear the cost of transportation when they are unwell. People suffering from Long COVID can avoid the additional stressor of finding transportation through AfterCare’s program with RideHealth.

About Long COVID and the AfterCare Program

Being sick is a stressful experience, and getting COVID-19 is no different. While people who are infected may experience a wide range of symptoms that vary from mild to severe, not everyone gets Long COVID.

Some people who have been infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 can experience long-term effects even after the acute phase of their infection ends. This is considered Long COVID – a range of new, returning, or ongoing symptoms that people experience four or more weeks after their COVID-19 initial infection. Long COVID can also be referred to as long-haul COVID, post-acute COVID-19, and chronic COVID.

The Test & Treat Corps’ AfterCare Program provides essential health and social needs resources for New Yorkers with Long COVID so that they are not alone in their recovery process.

In addition to providing information on Long COVID and guides, AfterCare also provides information and tools to help patients through their experience, such as a Daily Symptom Tracker. Providers can also find a Provider Tip Sheet to help them navigate conversations with their patients who have Long COVID.

The central feature of AfterCare is the AfterCare Navigators, who give clients the opportunity to directly speak with someone and guide them to crucial resources. AfterCare’s Navigators are trained to support members who conduct telephonic outreach and connect or refer people with Long COVID to the city and community-based resources that support them in their recovery. Any New Yorker with Long COVID – even if they are asymptomatic – can access tools to help them with mental health, physical health, financial support, as well as resources for community support.

For more information about AfterCare and its free transportation program, call the hotline or visit the AfterCare page.