TransCare helps patients on Road to Recovery
American Cancer Society teams with ambulance company to ensure patients reach live saving treatment
White Plains, NY – (February 19, 2013) Getting people to the hospital is Jim O’Connor’s business. That’s why the president of TransCare – an ambulance company serving Metro New York, Maryland, and Pennsylvania – was intrigued by the idea of making it easier for cancer patients in his area to get to lifesaving treatment.
For the last two years, TransCare has supplemented the Society’s Road to Recovery program in the Hudson Valley and lower Westchester with free rides in SUVs when volunteers are unavailable. His passion for meeting local transportation needs stems from his family’s experience. He also serves as a volunteer on the American Cancer Society's board.
“My sister underwent treatment for multiple myeloma in Manhattan, including a stem cell transplant,” said O’Connor. “My wife Gail assumed responsibility for getting her to and from New York City for all the tests and treatments. I can’t imagine how difficult it would have been for my sister if she had to do this for herself or rely on friends. The last thing people should have to worry about is how they’ll get to treatment or worse yet…if they can get to treatment.”
Jim was pleasantly surprised by the response of TransCare employees. “Our paramedics and EMTs are professionals, used to responding quickly. Driving cancer patients to their appointments is a more relaxed situation. They have the patients with them in the front seat of a four wheel drive vehicle. They give emotional support. They build relationships with the patients. The payback for my employees was something I wasn’t ready for. The rewards were incredible.”
More than 200 Road to Recovery volunteers, aided by TransCare drivers, provided 2,400 rides in the Hudson Valley in 2012. Thanks in part to another Eastern Division board member, Sandy Cassese, appointments for Health Quest patients can often be scheduled for when TransCare is available.
Jim O’Connor looked beyond his own company to colleagues in the industry, calling on Jim McPartlon, vice president of Mohawk Ambulance in Albany. Now Mohawk dedicates a driver eight hours a week to meeting the needs of patients in Albany, Latham, and the surrounding areas.
“It’s a beautiful partnership and the concept is picking up momentum,” said Diana Martin, the Society’s regional vice president in the Capital Region, “Mohawk had an employee who was already a Road to Recovery volunteer, and he became an internal champion.”
For Jim O’Connor, the ultimate satisfaction is the knowledge that people are able to complete a course of treatment and survive. He continues to “pick up the phone” to ask peers to join the effort.
“My father died of melanoma when I was ten, so I understand how destructive cancer can be to a young family,” said Jim. “I think both my parents would be proud.”
About the American Cancer Society
The American Cancer Society combines an unyielding passion with nearly a century of experience to save lives and end suffering from cancer. As a global grassroots force of more than three million volunteers, we fight for every birthday threatened by every cancer in every community. We save lives by helping people stay well by preventing cancer or detecting it early; helping people get well by being there for them during and after a cancer diagnosis; by finding cures through investment in groundbreaking discovery; and by fighting back by rallying lawmakers to pass laws to defeat cancer and by rallying communities worldwide to join the fight. As the nation’s largest non-governmental investor in cancer research, contributing more than $3.4 billion, we turn what we know about cancer into what we do. As a result, more than 11 million people in America who have had cancer and countless more who have avoided it will be celebrating birthdays this year. To learn more about us or to get help, call us any time, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345 or visit cancer.org.