DEAR ABBY: I read the letter from "On My Own in Bloomington, Ind." (Aug. 5), who needed a ride to her colonoscopy appointment but didn't have transportation. Your suggestions were admirable, but there is another service you should be aware of.
Many states have a 2-1-1 Information and Referral Service, often sponsored by the local United Way. It has trained information and referral specialists available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to listen to individuals' needs or questions, help callers make informed decisions, and link them to a variety of community resources that fit their needs.
Those needs could be anything from a volunteer driver for a medical appointment to help caring for an aging relative, consumer help, child-care services, finding a local food shelf, domestic abuse shelter or chemical dependency treatment. When you don't know whom to call, call 2-1-1. It is available to help you find answers confidentially. -- LYNETTA IN DULUTH, MINN.
DEAR LYNETTA: My readers never cease to amaze me. You always come through with all kinds of suggestions for any situation, as you did again. Thanks to all of you. I'm sure the information will be appreciated. My newspaper readers' comments:
DEAR ABBY: I have a few suggestions for "On My Own." She should contact a social worker at the hospital where her doctor works. As you pointed out, many people have this problem, and I bet the social worker will have some solutions.
Second, there is probably a nursing school nearby. She should contact the dean of students to find out whether a nursing student would be available and would like to earn some extra money in this useful way. -- JACQUELINE, R.N., NEW YORK
DEAR ABBY: This is one of the many jobs home-health care aides are hired and trained for. My mother has worked for an agency and has accompanied many clients -- seniors and younger people -- on doctor and hospital visits. Many businesses that advertise "senior care" also provide services to non-seniors with disabilities, temporary health issues, and people who just need a "friend" for a few hours.
There are also volunteer organizations that provide similar services, although some may not have training or appropriate insurance or be bonded by the organization, as many home-health care businesses do. -- ALEXANDRA IN PITTSBURGH
DEAR ABBY: Many senior centers offer this service for medical appointments and procedures. The drivers are covered by insurance and are trained on customer service techniques. My husband has taken many people for this procedure. He typically leaves his number with the medical staff, who call him when the patient is ready to be picked up. Rarely do patients need someone at home with them afterward as long as they stay quiet. -- HAPPY TO HELP IN IRVINE, CALIF.
DEAR ABBY: One solution to the problem of not having family/friends available to accompany a single person for a colonoscopy is to trade time. I'll go with you for yours, and you go with me for mine. -- RICK IN WISCONSIN
DEAR ABBY: There are non-medical in-home care providers in many cities such as Seniors Helping Seniors that can provide the transportation and companionship that is needed. Check the phone book under Home Health Care and Services or Senior Citizens Organizations, or search the Web for non-medical in-home care. -- EILEEN IN LAKE HAVASU CITY, ARIZ.