American Cancer Society helps cancer patients

Road to Recovery program provides transportation for patients unable to drive

Sentinel photo by BRANDON MORGAN
From left, Liz Emerick, program manager of Mission Delivery, Larry Wilson, volunteer driver, and Matthew Kwiteruvich, operations manager for radiation oncology at Geisinger in Lewistown, smiles for a photo next to the Road to Recovery company car.

LEWISTOWN — The American Cancer Society helps cancer patients around the world through a program called Road To Recovery in which volunteers drive cancer patients to their doctor’s appointments who cannot do so themselves.

In order to be eligible for this program, the patient must be able to sit, stand and walk without assistance, or an adult caregiver must accompany the patient. The patient must provide his or her own walker or wheelchair.

Patients must be 18 years old or older to ride by themselves. Patients younger than 18 must be accompanied by a parent, guardian or another responsible adult; and the Society needs to obtain permission (verbal or written) from the patient’s parent or guardian. If the patient requires a car seat (based on state law) the parent, guardian or responsible adult is responsible for providing and ensuring the seat is safe and secure.

The patient must be free of anesthesia or sedation prior to and after the treatment, or the patient must be accompanied by an adult who will be responsible for the patient’s condition.

Liz Emerick, program manager of Mission Delivery talked about the importance of this program.

“It helps out patients that needs some kind of cancer-related treatment and getting them to their appointments when they don’t have a way to get there, or they are just too sick,” Emerick said. “There is no charge or qualifications for a senior citizen to take advantage of this program.”

Road To Recovery started in 1981 nationally and made its way to Lewistown. While Pennsylvania has 650 drivers, of which five are in Lewistown, but only three are active at the moment.

“If we gain more drivers, that means more opportunities to help more people get to their appointments,” Emerick said.

Volunteers sign up online and download an app that lets them find patients that need a ride. The app shows where the patients are located, the times of their appointments and their name once the driver accepts the job. The driver also is in charge of how far they are willing to drive.

In 2018, Road To Recovery provided 5,909 rides to Geisinger Cancer Institute patients at an average cost of $40 per ride which equals a program value of $236,360.

Larry Wilson, a driver who has made 338 trips since he started has been a fervent supporter of the program.

“The most challenging thing was being able to divide my private life and family life to doing this,” Wilson said. “I was passionate about it.”

Wilson is retired and wants to help out the community by giving back to those who deserve it most.

“I’ve been blessed with good health,” Wilson said. “There may be a time down the road I may need a ride. The guy we recruit today may be the guy to do it.”

Matthew Kwiteruvich, operations manager for radiation oncology at Geisinger in Lewistown, believes this program is great for the community.

“I think it’s tough in rural communities to get transportation,” Kwiteruvich said. “Having this available has really helped our people get over that stress.”

In order to become a volunteer driver, the volunteer must have a good driving record, a valid driver’s license, must be at least 18 years of age, have proof of adequate automobile insurance, access to a safe and reliable vehicle, schedule availability and a regular desktop, laptop or tablet computer access.

For more information on Road to Recover, visit cancer.org/drive. Patients and wishing to register may call (800) 227-2345.