The Department of Veterans Affairs is seeking volunteers to transport patients from Marion County to the Des Moines VA hospital.
Bart Quick, Chief of Voluntary Service for the Des Moines VA, said volunteers are required to have a clean driving record, must pass a physical examination and submit to a background check. The background check will examine one's criminal history and takes two weeks.
After that, volunteer drivers will go through an orientation process, to learn more about privacy expectations, courtesy, and infection control issues. Volunteers will ride with experienced drivers and then have an experienced driver ride with them on their first trips.
The patients driven by volunteers must be ambulatory. They can travel with a spouse and can be on oxygen. Most travel to Des Moines for outpatient services not available in Knoxville, such as X-Rays, MRI and other minor procedures. If a patient requires sedation during their visit to the Des Moines VA, the Department asks them to travel with someone who can assist them.
When patients utilize a VA van to get to Des Moines, with a volunteer driver, it is noted on the patient's chart to better accommodate the driver. Quick said the VA does not want to make volunteer drivers try to leave Des Moines at rush hour.
There are currently three volunteer drivers serving Marion County. Quick said the VA would like to double that number and more.
If you would like to learn more about becoming a volunteer, contact Shirley Woolums, volunteer coordinator, at 515-699-5818.
The Des Moines VA serves a 43-county area. In 2011, volunteer drivers traveled over 300,000 miles to assist veterans.