Q&A: How Does a Volunteer Medical Escort Help Older Adults?

By Marie Mazzeo  

The primary role of the volunteer Medical Escort program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is helping older adults  who cannot travel alone get to and from medical appointments.

Say you need a ride to Mass General: we’ll find a volunteer who will go to their home, go with you to the appointment, wait, and then return home with you.

Marie Mazzeo is Volunteer Programs Manager at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services.

Sometimes insurance covers transportation to the appointment. If not, we’ll provide transportation to get them to the appointment.

This program is open to older adults in Cambridge and Somerville, even if they’re not an SCES client. If somebody calls in who isn’t a client, we have volunteers who will use their own vehicles to provide transportation.

Most of the escort trips we provide are for clients who call their case manager and tell them they have an appointment coming up. We usually like to have 10 days notice, but there are sometimes emergencies where we have less.

When we get a request, we’ll make calls to find a volunteer who can take them. Unfortunately, if we don’t have a volunteer who can help, we can’t help the client.

This is one of those programs where we’re always in desperate need of volunteers, because most medical appointments are during the day, and most people are working during those hours. We currently have around six to eight volunteers, but we always need more.

Our ideal volunteer for this program is committed, compassionate, and offers a feeling of companionship for the person they’re escorting to the appointment.

Because of the time involved, we do offer the volunteers a stipend– $10 for anything under four hours, and $15 if the appointment runs longer than that.

 For more information regarding Medical Escorts or other volunteer programs, contact SCES at 617-628-2601 or visit the “Get Involved” page on our website, eldercare.org.