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Mobility Matters: Without vehicles many Memphians struggle to get the healthcare they need

"There are many layers to it. It's not just can I get to the doctor, right. First of all it's do I have a ride to get to the doctor," says Dr. Susan Nelson.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Getting around is something many of us may take for granted, but it's a real challenge for many people living in Memphis.

MATA tries with the money it has, but can take forever to get you where you need to goes and since the pandemic Uber and Lyft aren't always available.

Local organizations are shining a light on the challenges Memphians face when it comes to transportation.

While getting around for important things like work might not be your own person challenge it has ripple affects that impact us all even when it comes down to  getting to the healthcare you need.

That's something that Deborah Goodson knows all too well.

"I just got out of the hospital with fluid on my heart and body and I lost 35 pounds of fluid," said Goodson.

Before that, for decades, Goodson enjoyed designing beautiful floral arrangements, until.

"I was out for 6 weeks, almost 8 weeks. I only make money part time and I paid the gas light, water bill and 6,7,8 bills of the hospital bills," said Goodson.

Goodson's condition left her barely able to walk without the assistance of a walker given to her by Church Health, where she's gotten care since leaving the hospital and where she's now being treated for cataracts, but that's not where Goodson's troubles start.

Not having a car poses a challenge for Goodson, who relies on family or riding hailing companies like Uber or Lyft, in short supply due to the pandemic, to get back and forth to medical appointments.

Dr. Susan Nelson is the medical director of Church Health and she's seen the worst of patient challenges sprout from lack of transportation .

"There are many layers to it. It's not just can I get to the doctor, right. First of all it's do I have a ride to get to the doctor. Is there an appointment available, will they see me without insurance, how much will it cost," said Nelson.

Goodson has no health insurance, so she turned to Church Health for the care she needed, but not even Church Health can help everybody.

With nearly a million people living in Shelby County, Goodson is in the 12% of the uninsured.

Nelson says the pandemic shined the light on many health disparities.

Church Health and other organizations like other safety net clinics and My City Rides are working to address mobility issues in Memphis.

"Are there conversations going on. Sure, here and there, but the concerted effort of everyone at the table was really amazing to watch. Shows you what can be done," said Nelson. 


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