The trek from Blythe, California, an isolated, agricultural town in the Palo Verde Valley to the Coachella Valley, is over 100 miles. Literally in the Colorado Desert, the City of Blythe and the surrounding communities are also in a healthcare desert. The local hospital, clinics and cancer centers work tirelessly to serve the community, but the area faces a shortage of registered nurses, primary care health professionals, mental health professionals, and the population has been designated by the state as medically underserved. Those who can drive or get a ride to the abundance of services and specialists in the Coachella Valley, seek medical care those. Others don’t. Their medical needs are left unattended and untreated.
There is no public transportation between Blythe and the Coachella Valley. There’s no way to get there. Until now. The Riverside County Transportation Commission (RCTC) applied for funding under the FTA’s new FTA Rides to Wellness Program. This grant offering seeks to increase access to care, improve health outcomes, reduce health care costs by funding innovate projects. RCTC partnered with PVVTA, the Palo Verde Valley Transit Agency, and local health care agencies to create a Rides to Wellness program for the Blythe community.
If funded, the Blythe Wellness Express will run up to three days a week, providing transportation from Blythe to hospitals in Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, and Palm Springs. This medical transportation program will provide a lifeline for an underserved population to get to desperately needed medical care. Read more about the Blythe Wellness Express and the grant application at the Palo Verde Valley Times.
The grant application for this new transportation program was submitted May 25, 2016 and is currently under review.
AMMA is honored to have assisted RCTC and PVVTA with this undertaking and wishes to thank the many partners who made this project possible:
Palo Verde Hospital, Blythe Cancer Resource Center, Palo Verde Valley Community Improvement Fund, Community Connect/ Riverside County VTCLI, Independent Living Partnership TRIP, U.S. Congressman Raul Ruiz, California State Senator Jeff Stone, Supervisor John J. Benoit, City of Blythe Mayor Joseph DeConinck, Blythe Police Department, Blythe Chamber of Commerce, Riverside University Health Care System, Salud Corporation- Clinicas de Salud del Pueblo, Sheltering Wings Corporation, Escuela de la Raza Unida, First Southern Baptist Church, Southern California Association of Governments, Coachella Valley Association of Governments, SunLine Transit Agency, RCTC Citizen Advisory Committee Members