When Gregory Penske, chairman and CEO of Penske Motor Group, met with the UCLA Health Operation Mend team in 2019, he was inspired by the Operation Mend story and program. When he discovered one of the program’s urgent needs was a patient shuttle, Penske Motor Group gifted the program with a customized shuttle that was recently delivered.
The new patient shuttle will provide convenient and free transportation for Operation Mend patients, their caregivers and family members to UCLA facilities and other treatment locations, as well as recreational activities around Los Angeles. On February 27, 2020, Operation Mend and UCLA leadership joined Penske for a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new shuttle.
“Thanks to Greg for facilitating the customized shuttle from the Penske Motor Group,” said Troy J. Simon, executive director of UCLA Health Operation Mend. “It truly is a gift that will remove barriers to treatment for our veterans and improve their well-being while in Westwood.”
The new specially modified shuttle bus is designed to accommodate the physical needs of patients, including a wheelchair lift and spacious seating. The bus is wrapped with photos of veterans who have been treated at Operation Mend for injuries suffered while serving in the post-9/11 era. Powered by compressed natural gas, the shuttle will produce approximately 30 percent less greenhouse gas emissions than a comparable gasoline-powered vehicle.
“It is our privilege to support the community in this meaningful way,” Penske said. “As we considered Operation Mend’s mission to provide comprehensive services to our veterans, we felt the best way we could support this as a transportation services company was to ensure our wounded warriors have a safe, accessible vehicle that gets to and from their scheduled care during their time in Los Angeles. We are grateful for their service to our country that gives us the freedoms we enjoy every day.”
Founded in 2007, UCLA Health Operation Mend helps America’s post-9/11 service members and veterans recover from their visible and invisible wounds of war. UCLA clinicians perform highly complex surgeries, as well as address psychological concerns. Many veterans do not have insurance coverage that pays for the services provided by Operation Mend, and many do not know how to secure enough leave time from work, arrange child care or surmount the cost of medical care and personal service needs. All UCLA Health Operation Mend services are at no cost to the veterans, and the program’s Gold Standard of Care helps patients cope with these logistical challenges, including coordinating all patient and caregiver transportation, picking up patients and their family members from the airport gate when they arrive, scheduling and escorting patients to appointments, offering a Buddy Family for social support and engagement and providing lodging and group activities while in Los Angeles — making each family feel welcome and comfortable.
“Our veterans deserve the best care and attention,” said Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health, CEO of the UCLA Hospital System and associate vice chancellor of UCLA Health Sciences. “We are thankful that our Operation Mend program and wounded warriors are so thoughtfully supported by community leaders such as Penske Motor Group.”
For more information, contact Nicholas Middlesworth at: 310-206-2089