Telecare riders must soon pay for most services |

Telecare riders must soon pay for most services

Josephine Reynen hasn1t driven a car in years.

The legally blind resident of a senior-living facility on Old Tunnel Road hasn1t needed to, thanks to a service that takes her to doctor1s appointments, shoe stores or a on leisurely ride through Grass Valley, usually whenever she wants.

But a change in funding for the Gold Country Telecare service that provides transportation to disabled individuals or people like Reynen could force her to make new plans.

Beginning July 1, vouchers that seniors and the disabled use for the bus service can only be used for health-related trips.

If Reynen wants to use the bus for a hair appointment, she1ll have to pay for the trip out of her own pocket.

3I was very upset about it when I heard this, because it1s a good service for me,² said Reynen, 83. 3Just think of how lonely people like us are.²

Put simply, there isn1t as much money for the program this year, said Susan Healy-Harman, development director for Gold Country Telecare.

Although the county increase its contribution to the program from $53,914 last fiscal year to $55,000, the number of vouchers Nevada County gets for the program from the Area 4 Agency on Aging will dip from 23,553 to 13,715 beginning July 1, according to statistics from the Sacramento-based agency.

The vouchers are used for rides on Telecare and can be purchased in a book of 10. Essentially, the vouchers allow passengers to travel for half-price within western Nevada County and are free.

Healy-Harman said the change, drastic as it sounds, shouldn1t have a huge impact on people who rely on Telecare.

3We looked at most of the trips we made, and the majority of them were health-related,² she said.

Though the number of vouchers has decreased, Healy-Harman said Gold Country Telecare will increase the number of routes it runs on Sundays beginning July 1.

In April, it added a loop service on Mondays to take residents in senior-living complexes to shopping centers, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital1s outpatient center, the Grass Valley Senior Center and downtown, all at half-price fares.

Healy-Harman said she had no choice but to modify the voucher schedule.

3We realize this will cause some people to be concerned, but we have no say on the parameters Area 4 sets. We totally understand why people are upset.²

Dave Soto, senior program manager for the Area 4 Agency on Aging, was out of his Sacramento office Thursday and unavailable for comment.

Reynen said she1ll continue to use the service.

3I1ll be OK,² she said, 3as long as I can go to the doctor and still go shopping.²

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