CHAMPAIGN — The American Cancer Society, which provides free rides to medical treatments for cancer patients through volunteer drivers, is also experiencing a driver drought.
The Champaign office that covers 19 counties in central Illinois is especially in need of drivers for cancer patients in Champaign, Vermilion, Douglas and Iroquois counties who need to get to medical appointments, cancer society spokeswoman Shayne Squires said.
"We are having more and more patients call needing assistance for transportation, especially radiation," said Pam Barak, patient services coordinator at the Champaign office.
The need has become so urgent in Vermilion County, where the cancer society has just one active volunteer driver, Barak said.
"And he does have other commitments with other agencies, so it depends on his availability," she said.
The cancer society needs mostly daytime drivers to correspond with patients' treatment times, but some patients have 6 p.m. and weekend appointments, so some drivers are needed then, too, Barak said.
The need for drivers has grown largely because awareness about the cancer society's free services has risen, she said.
"We do partner with other groups in town," she said. "We work with the (Provena) Center for Healthy Aging. We even pay for taxi service. We do everything we can to make sure a patient gets to treatment."