Desert Heart Transportation up, running

By Aeriel Bright

Reporter/Photographer

“There are more than 48 million seniors over the age of 65 in the US today. Here in Wickenburg we have 2,580 seniors; that takes up 45 percent of our adult population, and one out of five seniors don’t drive,” said Chris Backlund, quoting a recent AAA survey.

The survey also reported, aside from health concerns, transportation is the most important issue to seniors, including many in Wickenburg. Desert Heart Transportation may be the answer to this dilemma for locals. Desert Heart Transportation is a new non-emergency transportation service brought to Wickenburg by.

Backlund is a registered nurse. Nursing since 1994, she worked at hospitals for more than 20 years in the operating room and currently works at the Deer Valley Medical Trauma Center every Saturday and Sunday.  She moved to Arizona from Minnesota four years ago, fell in love with Wickenburg, and decided to call it home. “We really did fall in love with this town. From day one we have felt so at home here. It really is one of the friendliest towns in the whole United States. I truly believe that,” she said.

Backlund offers her transportation service five days a week, Monday – Friday from 6 a.m. – 6 p.m., taking residents wherever they need to go. It is an ambulatory transportation service, meaning clients do not need special equipment, are able to walk and really need just basic assistance.

“The difference between me and taxis, Uber or Lyft is; those are curb-to-curb services. With me it is a door-to-door service. I go to their door, help them to the vehicle, I assist them into their destination. I will also stay there with them and be there to receive them from their appointment if needed. Or even if it’s as simple as assistance in the grocery store, my goal is to assist them. They get from home and back to home safe. Seniors who have attendants are always welcome to bring their attendant along as well.”

“Transportation is independence. You lose your transportation, you lose your independence and that’s where things start to take on a snowball effect. By providing our clients transportation we are able to help keep them in their home longer, and that’s what it’s really all about here,” Backlund said.

Backlund’s goals of care and extended time in the home for seniors are shared by other Wickenburg services as well and she is teaming up with them to provide the best care possible.

“I’m very excited because there are several services in Wickenburg that I have developed partnerships with. First of all is the Freedom Express, we have met and we are very excited to compliment each other in our services to the community. We are quite different, Freedom Express services clients within a five-mile radius of Wickenburg; my service radius is 50 miles,” she said. “For example if a patient needs special attention or if they need to go outside of the Wickenburg city limits; then I would be the person to call for that. If they don’t have special needs and just need to make a store run, I would suggest the option of the Freedom Express to them. Between the two of us we are trying to refer each other to what best suits the needs of Wickenburg residents,” Backlund said with a  smile.

“I am also in partnership currently with Home Instead. What we have done is try to be of assistance to the hospital, pain clinics, emergency rooms, etc. Several hospitals are challenged with patients that don’t have a way home after a simple operation and have been given anesthesia. That is where I would come in to receive the patient and take them home to an in-home caregiver who is there waiting from Home Instead to care for the patient.”

Desert Heart Transportation is a Google business, bonded and insured. Drivers are drug tested, have to pass a federal background check and vehicles have regular motor vehicle checks. Backlund’s long-term plans include additional vehicles, drivers and additional specialized services.

For more information or to contact Backlund for her services, call (928) 232-2232, email deserthearttransportation@yahoo.com, visit deserthearttransportationservices.com or go to the Desert Heart Transportation Facebook page.

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