The agency’s transportation costs, in part from trips to Akron, are increasing.
By ANGIE SCHMITT
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN — The loss of Tod Children’s Hospital is making itself felt at Mahoning County Children Services, as the agency adjusts to transporting clients to Akron.
“It’s really causing us a lot of transportation issues,” said Brad Price, chief supervisor of the agency’s intake division. “It’s certainly more time-consuming than going to Tod Children’s.”
Akron Children’s Hospital offers some advantages to children services clients in the increased range of services it provides, Price said.
Children services had a coordinated program locally with Forum Health at Tod. The agency also depended on Tod for referrals, in child abuse cases and for infants born to drug-addicted mothers, said Price.
“Akron has a great reputation, deservingly so. Kids are getting well taken care of,” said Price.
Tod Children’s Hospital moved its operations to the Humility of Mary Health Partners’ new St. Elizabeth Health Care Hospital in Boardman last year. Tod saw its last client at Forum Health’s Northside Medical Center on April 25.
Price said staffers who once transported a child to the hospital, then moved on to other tasks, may be occupied for a half-day driving an hour to Akron and waiting for the child.
“There’s no question, it’s going to put an additional burden on our staff in terms of transportation.”
The agency’s transportation budget is on the rise. August transportation costs increased by more than $2,000 from July, jumping from $9,203 to $11,265, said Denise Stewart, executive director. Factors other than medical transportation, however, may also be at fault, she said.
Price said he’s more concerned about the effect of Tod’s closure on clients than on the agency’s finances.
“Very often when you’re 60 miles away, and you’re poor, you’re not going to be able to visit [a hospital] with the same frequency,” he said. “Most of our clients have other children that they have to care for. They really don’t have a lot of resources.”
Price said he is waiting to see if Akron Children’s Hospital’s purchase of Beeghly Medical Park in Boardman will come to fruition and children services can again turn to local providers for pediatric care.
“It’s too early to say how it’s all going to pan out,” he said.