When former client Robert got into the Medstar van operated by SNAP, he expected simply to receive a ride to Urgent Care. Instead, Medstar driver Kyle Chandler went above and beyond to demonstrate a new model that would inspire SNAP’s Ride to Care Program.

At the time of his ride, Robert was ill, lived on the streets, and had no job. Kyle used the down time of the van ride to get to know about Robert’s living environment and provide helpful referrals to wraparound community resources. Without realizing it, Kyle was doing the work of a Community Health Worker- and provided a service that not only helped Robert, but helped to frame Ride to Care and its expansion into Ride to Health.

“Most of what is centered around healthcare happens outside an office visit,” claims SNAP’s Health and Transportation Service Coordinator Cameryn Flynn.

Financial, social, and environmental factors are all social determinants of health. Adds Flynn, “Due to lack of time in office visits, a medical provider can’t get the full picture, which is why we are in partnership with clinics to increase health outcomes.”
In 2017, SNAP began its successful pilot of Spokane Ride to Care (SRTC). This program provides transportation for low-acuity medical needs to urgent care facilities with the intention of relieving pressure from emergency services and lower client costs. In addition, clients have the option to use the service for a return ride and/or for a trip to the pharmacy. Community Health Workers are integral to this service.

“SNAP determined that transportation services require more than being a taxi,” says Flynn. “Ride to Health allows us to engage with clients while we drive. There is so much dead time when transporting clients where the driver can find out so much more about the client that we created a program around it.”

In late 2018, Spokane Ride to Care became part of a larger umbrella program called Spokane Ride to Health. Partnerships with several community partners (including CHAS, Better Health Together, HSSA, Spokane Fire Department, Spokane Valley Fire Department, Pioneer Human Services, and Catholic Charities among others) led to the expansion of the program to include community health workers to resolve issues such as food insecurity, chronic disease, social isolation, and personal enrichment needs.

Community Health Workers can also regularly conduct in-home assessments, provide welfare checks, and set up medication boxes for clients.
Flynn states, “All community health workers are in some fashion about building relation with clients in order to walk hand-in-hand with providers to improve health outcomes with that individual.”

Building relationship is exactly how Kyle Chandler was able to help Robert through his challenges. This model is also how SNAP expects to reach even more clients in 2019.