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St. Agnes Hospital to use federal grant to set up chaperone program

St. Agnes Hospital's foundation received a federal grant to establish a program for volunteer chaperones to bring certain patients to appointments.
St. Agnes Hospital's foundation received a federal grant to establish a program for volunteer chaperones to bring certain patients to appointments. (Jeffrey F. Bill/Baltimore Sun Media Group)

The St. Agnes Hospital Foundation is receiving a grant to set up a network of volunteers to chaperone the elderly and people with disabilities in getting to and from non-emergency medical appointments.

The federal grant of $181,145 through the Community Care Corps will enable the foundation to create the St. Agnes Trusted Ride program. The volunteer chaperone network “will be layered onto existing transportation ride-share options to help frail patients navigate the hospital campus,” according to a news release. The model is to aid the patients with access to their necessary medical care to improve their health outcomes and further their independence.

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“St. Agnes Foundation’s Trusted Ride model will also reduce social isolation and family caregiver burden,” according to the release.

The new federal program is the first time that Community Care Corps, a federal agency funded by the Administration for Community Living, according to its website, has worked with St. Agnes Foundation Inc.

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Community Care Corps received hundreds of applications from communities in 45 states. The proposal from the St. Agnes Foundation received some of the highest scores across the board. Each application was evaluated by a number of reviewers, including Caregiver Action Network CEO John Schall, who deemed St. Agnes to be the cream of the crop.

Though Community Care Corps is a newer organization, many of its members have an encyclopedia worth of experience in their field. Schall’s nonprofit Caregiver Action Network has been around since 1992, serving family caregivers and older adults.

The St. Agnes program presents an “exciting” opportunity, Schall said.

“All of the programs provide rides, especially for elderly people, to and from their doctors appointments so that they can make it,” he said. “If they make it to their doctor’s appointments, they’ll stay healthy, they’ll be able to live at home longer and the admissions to hospitals will be lower. So, now we’re not just going to have a ride for you — in addition to the driver, there will be a volunteer chaperone.”

That chaperone will walk with the elderly or disabled client to and from the appointments, wait for them and go through the entire process for the client’s comfort. “That’s going to be of huge, huge, huge value,” stated Schall. “If this works well, this could be a model for communities across the country. I think that’s one of the reasons we were particular excited about funding this one.”

In addition to the grant for the St. Agnes Foundation, another foundation, Lori’s Hands Inc. of Newark, Delaware, will receive $212,058 that will allow it to operate in Baltimore, with college students serving as volunteers.

“Lori’s Hands’ model will train and equip college students to make weekly volunteer visits to assist community members living with chronic illnesses,” the news release said.

Student volunteers will provide nonmedical services, such as picking up prescriptions and groceries, doing laundry, training in technology skills and offering companionship.

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