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ITN Lanier executive director Dana Chapman and office manager Vicki Taylor spent Friday answering and making some 170 phone calls to seniors who need their transportation services.
“We were getting a lot of feedback from riders right away that their appointments were being cancelled anyway,” Chapman said, as ITN Lanier has suspended rides as of Monday, March 16.
Chapman said the nonprofit has 175 members, with a portion using it for social reasons like hair appointments. A larger share of those members depend on the service for keeping regular doctor’s appointments.
The last handful of rides were given Saturday and Sunday for groceries, though the average Sunday would see 18 to 20 rides.
Chapman said around the end of February she made a decision that ITN Lanier “would need to stop transporting to and from urgent care and the emergency room.”
“It showed me that we needed to begin to protect our drivers, who are 90% volunteers to our service. I didn’t understand the magnitude of what I was doing in February, but … I would say our decision was made on March 11 that we needed to convene an executive meeting,” she said.
Assisted living centers and some apartment managers working where the ITN Lanier members live were already realizing that their seniors were in need of grocery assistance.
“As the weeks have gone on, getting your hair done has been less important because church has been called off, so some of those appointments started to fall by the wayside,” she said, adding that some family members who usually don’t have time to transport their loved ones for medical appointments have been able to step up under the current circumstances.
Chapman and board chair Strother Randolph have talked every morning, and a full board conference call has been scheduled this week.
“To every single person that we spoke to between (Taylor and myself) working steady for a good 10 hours on Friday, not one of them was anything but gracious. They were immediately understanding, flexible, kind to us,” Chapman said.