CHARLESTON -- Smart Taxi, a relatively new taxi service to the Coles County area, has expanded to include medical transportation.
Vince Animashaun, owner and founder, sought to diversify the business to include this medical-based component. Outside of the growth to his business, he said he also saw another avenue to provide community service.
Through an agreement with the state, Smart Taxi drivers can provide transportation to those in need of a ride for vision, dental and medical appointments.
Animashaun said the service will also extend to discharges. The transportation will simply be that, though, so those with any specialized or emergency medical transportation needs will need to look elsewhere.
Animashaun said there will be no medical equipment in the vehicle, and noted the drivers' training extends only to first aid, cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED).
The service is covered for people on Medicaid and is also covered by select insurance providers including those insurances specific to worker's compensation.
Animashaun said he sought to fill a need for medical transportation in the area for those without a ride. It is "much more than you might think," he said.
"A good 95 percent of the people on Medicaid around here that use this service don't have a car," he said. "You would be amazed as far as the numbers of how many people depend on this service."
Animashaun said the extent at which he will accept a request for ride depends case by case. He said he and his drivers will cover approximately a 20-30-mile area but that could stretch, depending on the individual case.
To book a Medicaid paid trip, those covered by Medicaid are expected to call First Transit, a company affiliated with a program of the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services, at 877-725-0569 to get a tracking number to then use to set up a time with the service by calling Smart Taxi at 217-775-4178.