ENID — Vital transportation
But making the run from the parking lot, up the hill to the hospital and back is the SaintMobile drivers’ primary duty.
“There are people who regularly tell us they couldn’t visit the hospital without those (the SaintMobiles) because of the hill or their inability to walk,” Shreve said. “Some of them can make it up the hill and can’t make it down, some of them can make it down the hill and can’t make it up.”
Many people are surprised when a SaintMobile pulls up near their car, Shreve said.
“You can’t believe the number of people that tell us, ‘I’ve been to hospitals everywhere and I’ve never, ever been anywhere that they would transport us,’” Shreve said.
“I’ve had several say that there was only maybe one hospital in Oklahoma that had this service available,” said SaintMobile driver A.Z. Callicoat. “The vast majority don’t offer any type of transportation.”
The entire program is volunteer-centered, Shreve said. St. Mary’s volunteers buy and maintain the carts with money earned from fundraisers, donations and proceeds from the hospital gift shop.
“We had two fairly large donations last year,” Shreve said, “people who just appreciated the service.”
SaintMobile drivers also are the recipients of occasional tips from happy passengers, Shreve said.
“I had one today,” said Callicoat.
“Every little bit helps,” Shreve said.
Just that one percent ...
By far the majority of passengers are happy with the SaintMobile service, Shreve said, but on occasion the drivers’ reception is as cold as a windy winter day.
“Occasionally some aren’t as pleasant as the vast majority,” said Callicoat.
“I’ve had drivers quit because passengers would just read them the riot act,” Shreve said. “They don’t like that.”
SaintMobile drivers, Shreve stressed, “can’t pick up everybody.” Occasionally people get upset about being passed up.
“The last driver I had quit, he was out there by himself and he had more passengers than he could carry,” said Shreve. “He went to get them and they read him the riot act from the time he got there. Then, he took them back out there, and they chewed on him again. That was his last day.”
Fortunately, however, the vast majority of passengers appreciate the SaintMobiles and their drivers.
“Ninety-nine percent, I would say,” Shreve said, “more than 99 percent.”
‘Always stand more drivers’