Tele-Care program gives seniors a lift

Photo by Chris Jackett

Photo by Chris Jackett

Wyandotte residents Jacki Predhomme, left, and Lita Rodriguez each spend their mornings driving seniors around the Downriver area. Predhomme usually drives the Tele-Care bus and Rodriguez usually drives the van. Both vehicles are wheelchair accessible.

By Chris Jackett
Sunday Times Newspapers

WYANDOTTE – Senior residents may have a hard time getting to their necessary destinations, but the city’s Tele-Care program is here to help.

Tele-Care provides two important services to residents ages 55 and older. They can opt to receive daily phone calls to check in on their health; they also can schedule bus pickups to take them to the doctor’s office, grocery store, bank, etc.

“We pick up residents from their homes, Wyandotte Bishop Co-op and Wyandotte Co-op on Biddle,” said Joe Scalise, the city’s Tele-Care/senior van coordinator.

Scalise said about 75 to 100 residents take advantage of the program each week, but still others don’t know about the services.

“One day a week, we go to South Lyon and drop them off to go shopping,” Scalise said of the Monday morning trips. “On Wednesdays, we have shopping days. We take them strictly to Meijer, Kmart, etc.”

All residents need to do to get picked up by one of the two Tele-Care vehicles is call Scalise’s office 24 hours in advance at (734) 324-7285 or (734) 324-7286 between 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Tele-Care also makes individual pickups for medical appointments or other needs.

Scalise said the preplanned, three-hour group trips are a hit with seniors, but the Dr. Edward Bush Eye Clinic in Riverview and Josephine Ford Cancer Center in Brownstown Township also are regular requests.

Other than the weekly South Lyon trip, the program stretches from Emmons Boulevard south to King Road and Biddle Avenue west to Allen Road. Scalise said the South Lyon and Allen Road trips, which includes Josephine Ford Cancer Center, both were added within the past seven years he has worked with the program, which has been available and steadily growing for more than a decade.

“The equipment was upgraded and the hours were extended,” Scalise said. “Basically, it’s a little 5-to-10-mile radius that we service.”

Although the rides – which cost $1 one way and $2 round trip to cover the cost of using Wayne County’s SMART vehicles – spread throughout most of Wyandotte, Riverview and Southgate, the personal check-in phone call aspect of the program is limited to Wyandotte.

“We call all the shut-ins in the morning from 9 a.m. until whenever we’re done,” Scalise said. “We call them every day or every day they request, just to make sure that they’re OK. If someone’s not home two days in a row, we send a bus over to check on them.”

Callers also are asked to provide an emergency phone number of a relative or friend in advance. If any problems are discovered upon arrival at an unresponsive house, Tele-Care employees call 911 for medical assistance.

(Contact Chris Jackett at