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Productive Alternatives to take over ride service

Perham Memorial Hospital and Home will turn over operation of the local van transportation service to Productive Alternatives, Inc. of Fergus Falls, on July 1.

Perham Memorial Hospital and Home will turn over operation of the local van transportation service to Productive Alternatives, Inc. of Fergus Falls, on July 1.

Since 1983, the hospital has provided transportation within the city of Perham for older adults and persons with disabilities.

Productive Alternatives, Inc. (PA) has been awarded a contract with the Minnesota Department of Transportation to implement a countywide transportation system. The Perham service will integrate into this countywide plan, providing one seamless transportation system throughout Otter Tail County. Rather than calling the hospital to arrange a ride, local residents will simply call an 800 number to make arrangements for travel - whether within the city of Perham or from Perham to another community. In addition, the new program will be open to all persons regardless of age or ability.Its very rare for a health care facility to be in the public transportation business, said Chuck Hofius, Perham Memorial Hospital CEO. When the hospital stepped forward to provide transportation services back in 1983, I dont think it was with the intention that wed still be doing it today. We identified a need of our older population and folks with disabilities for transportation around town and took the initiative to get the service started.

According to Hofius, the direct operating cost of the van service is around $46,000 annually. Of that amount, $6,000 comes from rider fees, $10,000 from the city of Perham, and the remaining $30,000 subsidized by PMHH. This is in addition to the hospital also providing the van and a driver.

The reliability of transportation in Perham will remain at the high standard it always has been, added Hofius. Ron Bjelland will continue to drive the local van as an employee of PA. He has done a tremendous job for us over the years and were happy hell still be the communitys local driver.

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PA currently has several vans and drivers in operation throughout Otter Tail County and will be able to provide a substitute driver in Perham when Bjelland is not available as well as a van if needed. In addition, PA also brings the potential of additional services - such as evening and weekend travel and transportation between counties when demand occurs.

In addition to medical services, Perham Memorial Hospital and Home also operates a 96-bed skilled nursing home, senior and assisted living, ambulance, pharmacy, home care agency, and a wide variety of outpatient medical services, including a chiropractic center.

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