Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research

News Post

CHPPR partners with non-profit REAL, Inc. to provide transportation services to vulnerable communities

Published: April 19, 2022

A client boarding a REAL, Inc. shuttle.

REAL, Inc. is a non-profit organization that has worked with the Center for Health Promotion and Prevention Research on multiple projects, including the Trip for Salud y Vida program, which studied the integration of transportation into care for mental health. The organization is devoted to providing community-centered services to Seniors, people with disabilities, and other vulnerable communities in rural areas of South Texas.

“As an agency we focus on the client, passenger, resident and offer all kinds of services whatever condition they me be in,” said Martín Ornelas, Director of REAL, Inc. “Whether they need housing, health care, or transportation, we truly provide a holistic approach.”

REAL, Inc. provides transportation services in rural communities that desperately need it, with a team of Mobility Managers who make sure that passengers get where they need to go. Even a trip as short as three miles can be a major obstacle in rural areas without sufficient public transportation infrastructure, especially when many households have just one or even no vehicles. In these communities, access to transportation can be a major variable in whether patients in need of care like cancer treatment are able to get the services they need. That’s why REAL, Inc. offers regular, scheduled transportation on an ongoing basis to individuals who need it.

“I remember in one case, we had an elderly woman living alone who just could not believe that we would be able to take her to her cancer treatments every day for the full six weeks,” Ornelas said. “These people are fighting cancer; they already have enough things to worry about. We make sure that transportation isn’t one of them.”

The organization’s work with Trip for Salud y Vida found that when transportation is factored into care from the start as an “opt out” part of the program, rather than an “opt in,” patients see improved outcomes including reduced isolation and increased self-esteem. REAL, Inc. is working to implement similar transportation integration with rural healthcare providers and community colleges.

“Transportation should not be an afterthought,” Ornelas said. “It needs to be part of the core assessment of needs, and if you take it into account from the start you get better outcomes.”

Find out more about REAL, Inc. on their website.