By Christina Fuoco-Karasinski
West Valley View Managing Editor
The Valley Toyota Dealers Association (TDA) has donated three new vehicles to Phoenix-based nonprofit Elaine, Arizona’s first health navigation and transportation system for the homeless and underserved.
The TDA’s donation includes two new 2019 Toyota Siennas and one 2019 Toyota Prius. The vehicles will serve as the organization’s official transportation for patients who are experiencing homelessness and need assistance with managing their health care.
Elaine was founded in 2018 by Vivienne Gellert, a former pre-med student at ASU who felt compelled to make a change after witnessing firsthand the struggles in obtaining health care for homeless individuals.
“When Vivienne came to us with this vision, we felt compelled to be a part of something we knew would directly impact our community” said Rob Ginis, chief operations officer for Avondale Toyota and a Valley TDA board member.
“We’re humbled to have been a part of the inception of Elaine and look forward to seeing our vehicles in action across the Valley.”
The barriers to obtaining health care for homeless individuals go beyond the financial burden. More than 25,800 individuals who are homeless in Maricopa County are facing nonfinancial barriers, including not knowing where to go to seek care and transportation to and from said care. As a result, these individuals are more likely to place a lower priority on obtaining health care.
“Our goal is to provide care beyond survival through a community service that will address the social determinants of health and in return reduce healthcare utilization and improve patient outcomes,” Gellert said.
“Transportation is at the core of what we do, and Toyota’s contribution to our organization was a critical component in ensuring we were equipped to properly serve our patients.”
Elaine focuses on connecting patients with health navigation and health transportation, and Toyota’s vehicles will be used daily to transport patients from hospitals across the Valley to the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix. Upon arrival, Elaine’s team will provide navigation around follow-up care appointments and transportation arrangements, assistance in filling prescriptions and addressing health literacy, and connections to additional resources for food, shelter and employment.
Elaine launched its operations in February. For more information on the history and services of Elaine, visit elaineaz.org.