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Ford Motor Co. is officially launching its non-emergency medical shuttle service with the Beaumont Health network.

This on-demand transportation service, dubbed GoRide, covers more than 200 facilities in Southeast Michigan. It started as a pilot in late 2017 with five Ford Transit Wagon vans.

GoRide is supported today by a fleet of 15 Ford Transit vans that accommodate the elderly, those in wheelchairs and those with other mobility challenges. That fleet is expected to grow by another 10 mid-year and reach 60 vans by the end of the year. The Transit lineup is an important part of the GoRide service, Ford said, citing its interior space and flexible seating options as “key to GoRide’s successful implementation.”

The GoRide fleet features flexible seats that can be flipped up to accommodate two wheelchair positions. Some of the vehicles feature bus doors or running boards to ease entry, as well as grab handles to help patients with stability while entering. Many of the vans employ a wider wheelchair lift to handle non-standard-size wheelchairs — making it easier to help bariatric patients whose prior transportation options were limited to a stretcher.

GoRide is designed to fill a transportation need for an aging population, as well as those with disabilities or special needs. It’s also available for patients without easy access to transportation. The GoRide service can be pre-booked up to 30 days in advance, and is most often booked by the medical staff, including discharge or unit clerks.

Patients can also book the service directly, but that doesn’t happen as often, a Ford spokeswoman said. In addition to helping patients make their appointments, GoRide is also designed to streamline the day-to-day operations for medical staff.

“There’s no excuse for the fact that so many people have trouble simply making it to their medical appointments,” Marion Harris, vice president of Ford’s mobility business group, said in a statement. “By merging our expertise in vehicles, technology and human-centered design, we’ve created a high-touch, patient-focused service that truly understands and is tailored to patients and their needs.

“Our service is focused on multiple social determinants of health, and delivers the quality of care and on-time certainty that medical facilities need in order to increase through-put and reduce wait times.”

GoRide drivers also receive care training for transporting elderly or disabled patients. They are trained to assist patients to and from the doorstep, entering and exiting the vehicle and escorting them to and from their appointments.

“This is precisely what we needed to improve access to medical care at Beaumont’s facilities for our patients who are elderly, in wheelchairs or have mobility challenges,” Paul E. LaCasse, Beaumont’s executive vice president of post-acute care and diversified business operations, said in a statement.

“At Beaumont, we work very hard to provide extraordinary and compassionate care during every interaction with our patients and their families. We are certain that the GoRide non-emergency transportation service and its drivers meet the high quality standards we hold.”

NNaughton@detroitnews.com

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