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Safe, Caring, Life-Saving

Dan Langendoefer, Mid-MO Region Driver taking Richard McDonald into the dialysis clinic for his early morning appointment

OATS Transit provides services that enhance the quality of life for our riders. To some, our services actually save their lives.

It’s 5:00 a.m. on a cold, February morning. OATS Transit driver Dan Langendoerfer is preparing his bus for the day. He starts with his pre-trip checklist to ensure the vehicle is safe and everything is in working order. He then starts up the bus to get it warmed up for his first rider of the day. A rider whose life depends on OATS Transit to take him to his dialysis treatment three times a week, for the rest of his life. That rider is 76 year old Richard McDonald. Richard first started using our services over four years ago when he began receiving dialysis treatments.

For more than 40 years, Dialysis transportation has been a big part of the services that OATS Transit provides. Last year alone, our company provided 59,549 one-way trips for dialysis.

Dialysis is a treatment that is needed when your kidneys do not work well enough to keep you healthy. The treatment does some of the things normally done by healthy kidneys. According to the latest U.S. Renal Data System Annual Data Report, over 400,000 Americans are on dialysis. There are two different types of dialysis -hemodialysis and peritoneal dialysis. It is important for each patient to get treatment when scheduled. After your kidneys have failed, you must receive treatment your whole life, unless you get a kidney transplant. If treatments are missed, the outcome could be fatal.

Richard takes the bus to receive his dialysis treatment three days a week. On this February morning, like most other mornings, he is talkative. Dan has come to appreciate his riders, like Richard, in the eight months he’s worked for OATS Transit. Despite what they’re going through with treatments, Dan describes his riders as friendly; something he said he doesn’t know if he could maintain in their situations.

Most likely, Richard will feel weak and exhausted after sitting through his four hour treatment. He might have a hard time staying awake on his bus ride home. OATS Transit drivers are trained to be familiar with how dialysis patients may feel afterward, and they try their best to makes sure riders are comfortable. Richard doesn’t have one complaint about any of his drivers after four years. He notes that he’s consistently had drivers who go above and beyond, always walking to the door to get him, and making sure he gets inside his house okay. “They’re very professional, and they help so much,” Richard said. “They do things for me to accommodate my situation, even when they don’t have to.”

Because patients cannot miss their treatment, some of our drivers have to work on holidays, weekends and during inclement weather. It doesn’t matter if there is rain, snow or ice, patients receiving dialysis must make their appointments. Drivers all over the state, like Randy Hillyard, see this as just part of the job. This goes along with OATS Transit’s mission of providing safe, caring & reliable transportation. Our drivers care about the well-being of their riders and know the importance of safely getting them to their treatment.

Randy has worked for OATS Transit for the past 6 years. At least three days a week he starts his day, like Dan, at 5:00 a.m. and takes riders to their treatments. When transporting them to and from the dialysis clinic, Randy tries to make conversation with his riders. He says a lot of his riders depend on him because they don’t have anyone else who can help them. “Some take their treatments well, but others do not,” Randy said. “It takes a lot out of them, so I try to talk to them and offer up support.”

Patients sometimes experience complications from dialysis. Drivers are trained to remain calm in these situations. They need to know how to react quickly if a rider experiences sickness or bleeding after treatment. They must be able to work efficiently in this high stress situation in order to keep the rider safe and get them back to the clinic or alert a medic. While it can be both difficult and tiring for him, Randy has gotten used to the job and really likes what he does. “I enjoy my job,” Randy said. “And without OATS Transit, I don’t know what some of these riders would do to get their treatment.”

OATS Transit bus parked outside of Dialysis Clinic Inc. in Columbia, MO

Bev Grimes, a Facility Administrator at DaVita Cameron Dialysis in Northwest Missouri, has depended on our services to transport her patients for years. We work closely with dialysis clinics across the state to ensure patients have transportation to and from dialysis. “I can’t say enough good things about OATS [Transit] and the many ways they help our patients,” Bev said. “The driver at times knows what’s going on with a patient when we don’t and will let us know if they think the patient isn’t acting ‘quite right’ or is ill."

Rural communities, like the one where Bev works, don’t have a lot of other transportation options available for residents. “Without OATS [Transit] being able to transport half of my patients to and from dialysis, they would have no way to get to the clinic to receive their life-saving treatments,” Bev said.

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