PERFORMANCE SITE SPOTLIGHT
Grady Health System, frequently referred to as Grady Hospital or simply Grady, is the largest hospital in the state of Georgia and the public hospital for the city of Atlanta. According to the Georgia Department of Public Health, Atlanta ranks fifth in the rate of new HIV infections and 47% (2014) of persons living with HIV/AIDS in the Atlanta EMA were found to be retained in care.
Grady's Infectious Department Program (IDP) at the Ponce de Leon Center is funded as an Enhanced Patient Navigation to Re-engage Women of Color Living with HIV in Care site.
The Grady team includes Melissa, Larisa, Tajma, Lucy, LaShonda, and Gina. To date they have enrolled 50 clients in the multi-site evaluation. Multiple barriers contribute to clients not being engaged in care. One of those barriers is transportation to the clinic. In order to address this barrier, the Grady team has started using ridesharing technology to support clients keeping medical appointments especially for clients who do not have access to car, bus, or train, or are physically unable to use public transportation.
The team started an agreement with Lyft, a ridesharing app, to secure car transportation but the agreement was in a queue routing through Grady's Legal Department. By relying on networks within the Grady System, the team discovered Common Courtesy, Inc a non-profit that works to bridge the gap between riders and Uber and Lyft by scheduling rides and ensuring that riders have a smooth transportation experience. The Patient Navigation team at Grady was able to expedite set up of an account with Common Courtesy, Inc. as service agreements had already been established by other departments within the hospital system. The team is now able to schedule roundtrip transportation for client medical appointments: Using a web portal to schedule the rides, Patient Navigators get a text message that describes the driver, car, license plate and time the ride will arrive. They in turn call their clients to share the information. The cost of rides is drawn down from a pre-paid account with Common Courtesy, Inc.
Several clients state "they love [the transportation service]" and as a result of having a transportation services, have re-engaged in care. Removing the barrier to accessing care combined with the support of their Patient Navigator has contributed to these patients reaching viral suppression. While not a long-term solution, it offers the option to help clients become stable and reinvest in their health. Melissa Beaupierre, Grady IDP, says a lesson learned is to not try to do it on your own. Before initiating a transportation service or other new services, ask within your networks to see if a similar system is already set up.