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Veterans living in the Rio Grande Valley/Costal Bend Area, who need transportation to and from medical appointments, now can get a ride via VA Uber Health Connect.

"The VA Uber Health Connect Initiative bridges the transportation gap by ensuring Veterans have reliable transportation for their health care needs,” said National Lead of VA Uber Health Connect Indra Sandal, Ph.D. “By offering ridesharing as an additional means of transportation, VA is helping Veterans access the best and soonest possible care — while still achieving cost savings.”

Based on survey feedback from 2,300 Veterans between March 2022 to January 2023, 83% of Veterans stated they would not have been able to access their medical care without the program.

VA Uber Health Connect is a new initiative recently implemented by VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System to provide supplemental transportation to eligible Veterans needing access to and from medical care.

“This is a life-altering program that offers our most vulnerable Veterans transportation to health care — the moment they need it,” said Homero S. Martinez III, VA Texas Valley Coastal Bend Health Care System director. “It also advances our ability to offer more accessible, equitable health care to our Veteran community.”

The VA Uber Health Connect Initiative launched as pilot program in 2022 at ten VA medical centers. From January 2022 to March 2023, VA Uber Health Connect completed more than 30,000 Uber rides across 408,529 miles for Veterans. These rides have increased access, improved clinical engagement, and saved VA an estimated $35 million. The cost savings are in part from faster emergency department and inpatient discharges as well as closing the gap on an estimated 28,000 missed appointments.

This program is now available to eligible Veterans in the Rio Grande Valley and Coastal Bend area.

According to the American Hospital Association, 3.6 million people in the United States do not obtain medical care due to transportation challenges. Children, older adults, and Veterans are especially vulnerable to transportation barriers due to social isolation, underlying medical conditions, and a greater need for frequent clinician visits.

Veterans interested in learning more about the program are asked to contact Stephenie Ochoa at (956) 856-5913 or stephenie.ochoa@va.gov.