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1:1 with Chuck Quinn, Director of Special Projects at River Cities Public Transit

Publication Date: Sep 22, 2022

This is a transcript of a video interview with Chuck Quinn on May 16, 2022 in Chicago, IL at the Mobility Innovation Collaborative workshop. Find these videos on the Mobility Learning Center here


Tell us about yourself and your project. 

My name is Chuck Quinn. I’m the Director of Special Projects for River Cities Public Transit in Pierre, South Dakota.


What inspired your project?

We were talking to our folks at the hospital, just talking to them in general about: what are some of your needs? Are there folks that need to get to medical services that have difficulties doing that? And we came up with a number of needs that they had, and so we applied for the IMI grant thinking it would be a good match. So we applied and we were accepted into the program. It’s one of those things where the hospital has a number of patients that come or should come, and they don’t for a variety of reasons. People are a long way from the hospital and it’s difficult for them to get there. They have unreliable transportation, maybe they don’t have a driver’s license. Maybe they rely on a neighbor or friend or family member to get them there. And it’s just a matter of that they’re unreliable. And so we pick them up and bring them to their medical appointments. We’re hoping to cut down on the number of missed medical appointments and save the hospital money and also provide some good medical care. So that’s kind of the impetus for us.


What are your project goals? 

So the hospital was pretty specific. From their numbers, it was about 9% of their patients that missed their medical appointments for whatever reason. And, you know, you’ve got a doctor waiting to see these people at a certain time. You might have a nurse taking all of their vitals. You might have somebody at the reception desk welcoming them. They certainly have an office space. They may have equipment that they’re going to use for your evaluation or when you’re in. All of that costs money, and if you just don’t show, it costs the hospital a certain amount of money. 9% of their patients were in that situation where they just didn’t show. That was one goal. We wanted to reduce that number for them. 

Another goal was when people get discharged from the hospital, they are supposed to come back after two months. Maybe they have to get a wound changed or stitches out or a variety of things. And they don’t come back and those wounds get infected and then they have to be readmitted. So they were finding their readmission rate was higher than it should be. And so they wanted to work on trying to eliminate some of those readmissions. 

And the third goal was people were using the emergency room facilities for their primary medical care. So maybe they were supposed to come on Monday, they missed their doctor’s appointment, but they happened to be in town on Thursday to go grocery shopping and they go, “oh, I was supposed to get stitches out. Why don’t you take me over to the emergency room and I’ll get my stitches out?” Well, that’s not the appropriate use of the emergency room services. And so they were having a high use of emergency room services and they wanted to see if they could reduce that. So those were the three primary goals.


How are you engaging with your end users?

Certainly each of the departments at the hospital know who those patients are that are having difficulty with transportation. And so what this program did is we hired a coordinator to facilitate both programs, both the medical appointments and working with those departments and also right with our software for River City’s public transit so that we can connect them with an immediate ride. So that coordinator actually does a face-to-face with those individuals, and talks to them about their needs and insurance cards, because we’re basing our ability to pay based on a three tier payment system on whatever medical insurance they have. So she (the coordinator) interacts with them to begin with. 

Then, we are doing a survey. We have not done that yet, but we intend to do that in the next couple of months. We’re gonna do a survey of folks to find out how they like the rides. Are they timely? Are they getting you where you’re supposed to be when we say we will? That type of thing. So we’re going to be engaging them. We’ve also done some stuff with the community, as far as PR and getting some things out on radio stations and newspapers.


How does your project impact your community?

It doesn’t necessarily impact the community per se. I mean, like, if you wanted to utilize the service, you just couldn’t. You have to be a patient at the hospital that has a mobility issue. So first of all, you have to be somebody that’s receiving medical services. If that’s the case, if you are, then automatically, you would apply in one of the three tiers. 

When you come into the hospital, the first thing at your doctor’s office, the first thing they do is they ask you, “what form of insurance do you have?” People take out their Blue Cross Blue Shield, Medicaid, Medicare, or whatever their cards are, and they present that. That goes into the computer system and then we can automatically tell if you are on Medicaid, you get a free ride, because that Medicaid normally means you don’t have a lot of resources, so we’re providing free rides. If you have private pay insurance, then automatically you can afford to pay for your own ride to and from the hospital. If you are on one of the insurances in the exchange or marketplace insurance, then you can get half-rate rides. So immediately, we can look at the screen, and know what your medical coverage is and we automatically know how you qualify for this program. 


Tell us about your project partners and their role. 

Well, as I mentioned, our biggest partner is the hospital, Avera St. Mary’s hospital. They have hired the coordinator and their training and keeping up with that, the coordinator piece of it, we train that coordinator with using our software and scheduling rides. So we both work with that person. 

The hospital is our main player, and then we have some volunteer drivers that do some driving and we provide them with some vehicles. So we train those drivers in safety and how to properly tie down wheelchairs in a vehicle, and those types of things. So we do some ongoing training with them as well, but the hospital is our main partner.


How does the Shared-Use Mobility Center support your project and team?

Well, we have our monthly meetings and I feel like I’m saying the same thing every month because we’re in the middle of our year of our field study, and all we have from month-to-month is just additional numbers that we’re providing. So I don’t feel like I have a whole lot to report, but I’ve asked some questions, and I’ve needed some information, and I’ve been able to get it. Certainly, I’ve been asked for information and I’ve tried to supply it, and I’m hoping that we’ll network on a larger scale. 

It’s also great to know and see those faces of people all over the country. I just met a gentleman just a few minutes ago from Traverse City, and he’s got a like program to mine. And so I’m really looking forward to spending some time sitting down and spending some face-to-face time with him, so thank you for holding this conference.