Charity Helps Ailing Truck Drivers
When illness strikes it can take a devastating toll on anyone. But America's truck drivers often struggle with health issues more than the average citizen.
Studies have shown that more than 70% of the 3.2 million professional drivers in the U.S. have one or more serious health problems such as obesity, diabetes, sleep disorders and cardiovascular disease. Truck drivers also lack the same access to health care that most Americans enjoy.
Access is limited because drivers work irregular hours, spend long-durations away from home, and are unable to navigate side streets and parking lots in their trucks to get to a clinic, pharmacy or hospital. Compounding the problem is the fact that more than one-third of truck drivers do not have health insurance.
The unfortunate result of these circumstances is that drivers are often unable to get treatment in the early stages of disease, allowing the condition to progress to a much more severe state. Minor illnesses become severe, leading to hospitalization and disability. The driver then may lose his/her commercial drivers license and become unable to work. This creates a downward spiral that leads to extreme financial hardship.
After witnessing hundreds of truck drivers and their families struggle to survive as a result of catastrophic illness or injury, radio personality Dave Nemo, host of the Dave Nemo Show (XM Radio Channel 171 Open Road) was compelled to take action. He found a willing partner in Dr. John McElligott ("Dr. John"). Together, they launched a truck driver charity to come to the aid of professional drivers in need.
The St. Christopher Truckers Development and Relief Fund (SCF) is a christian-based, 501(c)(3), truck driver charity that helps drivers whose medical problems have led to financial hardship. The SCF also conducts health research to benefit truck drivers and the trucking industry. The organization was incorporated as a not-for-profit organization in 2007.
The SCF helps truck drivers and their families who have financial needs due to medical problems. Assistance may be in the form of direct payment for medical services or prescription drugs, assistance with expenses while recovering from illness and out of work, or negotiating price reductions with medical providers and hospitals.
Donations to the SCF have been received from individuals and corporations sensitive to the needs of professional drivers. As of April 30, 2013, the SCF has helped 788 truck drivers and their families.
Who can apply for assistance?
In order for a driver to be considered a candidate for financial support from the St. Christopher's Fund, they must first meet certain criteria:
- Must hold a commercial driver's license
- Driving a commercial vehicle must be primary source of income (or was before the medical problem caused a loss of work)
- Must have a significant medical problem that requires monetary assistance:
- Medical information must be able to be confirmed by medical examination or via contact with your physician
- Must be able to provide proof of needing financial assistance
Drivers that meet these criteria are eligible for assistance. Assistance is provided on a funds-available basis.
To apply for assistance, call Diane Knight at 865-202-9428. Leave a message with your name, address, email or fax number and an application will be sent to you.
Email Diane a request or your completed application to email@example.com.
Fax your application to 865-851-8396.
In order to ensure that the majority of donations go towards applicants and not administrative costs, the SCF has a very limited staff. Email is the best way to communicate with the charity.
After receiving your completed application, a medical release form will be sent to your doctor along with a request for records. Once the records have been received, members of the Review Committee review your application. The Review Committee typically meets once a week. However, as the SCF board is made up of all volunteers, there may be some weeks when they are not able to meet due to other commitments.
After a decision has been made, you will receive a call. If you are approved for financial assistance, you will be asked to provide a copy of the bill(s) to which you want the money to go towards. Payments are sent to companies directly. If bills are not received within 30 days of approval, drivers must reapply and are not guaranteed the same assistance amount.
It can take anywhere from a few days to a few months to process an application for assistance, SCF warns. Delays are due to: 1) an incomplete application; 2) delays in receiving medical records; 3) a lack of response from the applicant concerning questions; 4) an inability to reach the applicant due to a call block on their phone (we sometimes have to call from private numbers.) Medical records are requested within 1 business day of receiving an application; however, many offices do not supply the records in a timely manner. The SCF suggests that applicants call their doctor or hospital in advance, letting them know a release for medical records will be coming from the St. Christopher Fund, and ask that they send your records as soon as possible.
Assistance can be in the form of payment for medical services or prescription drugs, assistance with expenses (e.g. utilities, rent/mortgage, insurance) while recovering from illness and out of work, or negotiating price reductions with medical providers and hospitals. Assistance is provided for essential expenses (e.g., not cable, data packages on cell phone plans, motorcycle/boat payments, vacation homes, traffic tickets, etc).
The fund does not cover dental work, credit cards, pet care, funeral expenses, child support, gifts, transportation, or bills deemed by the committee as unnecessary or excessive.
Unfortunately, most applicants' medical bills greatly exceed SCF's benefit amount, however the charity will provide drivers with information on how to negotiate medical bills and get set up on a payment plan.