Rides to medical appointments are available

Volunteers provide rides through several agencies. The key is to plan ahead and schedule rides in advance.

Rich Batcho is one of the volunteer drivers for the DAV van, which gives rides to those with VA-approved medical appointments.
Enterprise file photo

There are several options for residents in Hubbard County who need rides to medical appointments, but they need to be scheduled in advance.

Volunteer drivers are also needed to help these programs provide rides for those who need them.

County assistance

Deevon Schoon is the transit clerical worker for Hubbard County. She said county social services provides rides to medical appointments to those on Medical Assistance (MA) or Prime West insurance.

“We also work with clients to set up medical rides to appointments at locations further away like Detroit Lakes, Fargo, St. Cloud or Bemidji,” she said. “We only have a couple of drivers and one is part-time so they’re pretty much booked every day. The sooner people call ahead to schedule a ride the better.

“We also have an alternate number for people to call for help if they’re on Medical Assistance or Prime West. We can tell them who to call. Clients with Blue Plus have another option through an organization called Blue Rides. Some churches also help out from time to time.”


Call Schoon in transit at 218-732-2410 for more information on qualifying for rides.

To schedule a ride, call transportation coordinator Nick Johnson at 218-732-2421.

“Anyone who has MA or Prime West, we can give them a medical bus pass through social services to cover the cost of riding the Heartland Express,” Schoon said.

Heartland Express

The Heartland Express is Hubbard County’s public transit system, providing service to the city of Park Rapids and a two-mile radius outside the city.

The 16-passenger, wheelchair accessible bus runs Monday through Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Rides from the Park Rapids transit service area to Bemidji are provided the second and fourth Wednesday of each month, excluding holidays. The cost is $6 round trip.

Call dispatch at 218-732-3500 from 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday to schedule a ride. At least a two-hour notice is needed for initial pick up.

Fares are $1.50 one-way in the Park Rapids area.


Living at Home

Living at Home of the Park Rapids Area offers rides for seniors. Volunteer drivers with the program provide the rides.

“We mobilize volunteers to provide transportation to seniors ages 65 and older for local and long distance medical appointments to Bemidji or Fargo and local shopping and errands,” executive director Connie Carmichael said. “We do not provide transportation for ER visits or for any procedures where sedatives or anesthesia are involved.”

Living at Home also provides a variety of other services including friendly visiting. For more information about the program or volunteering with Living at Home, call their office at 218-732-3137. The office is open Monday-Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Friday from 9 a.m. until noon.

Rides for veterans

The Hubbard County Disabled American Veterans (DAV) program, Northwest Transportation, provides rides to VA-approved medical appointments at various locations. Call 855-277-9787 for more information on scheduling a ride. An email goes out to all of the volunteer drivers to see who can fill the request.

Anyone interested in learning how to become a certified volunteer driver by attending training at the Veterans Administration office in Fargo should contact the Hubbard County Veterans Services Office in Park Rapids at 218-732-3561.

Faith in Action

For residents in the Akeley and Laporte area, Faith in Action of Cass County may be able to help with transportation to medical appointments.

This volunteer-based program is available where volunteer drivers are available. When volunteers are available, they can give rides to medical facilities in Walker.

There is no cost or age requirement with this program. People are encouraged to give a donation, if they can. For more information on rides or volunteering to drive with the program, call 866-875-5435.


Northwoods Caregivers

Northwoods Caregivers is located in suite 170 at 616 America Ave. in Bemidji, and provides rides to medical appointments to residents in the Laporte area.

“We cater to seniors, but if someone comes in who has a health issue and they meet our criteria we wouldn’t turn them away,” transportation coordinator Michelle Nelson said. “We give rides to veterans, too. The Beltrami County Veterans Service office (218-333-4177) is right across the hall from us. If veterans are qualified, then the VA will pay for their rides. We also transport vets from the Laporte area to the armory, where a VA van is available that will take veterans to St. Cloud or Fargo at no charge.”

To request an application and information about the sliding fee scale, call 218-333-8264, or fill out the care receiver application at

Volunteer drivers are also needed to provide transportation for Northwoods Caregivers.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
What To Read Next
Get Local