04 Jun Non-emergency medical transportation service continues to i…
Photo: Bob Owen / San Antonio Express-News
Non-emergency medical transportation is a critical but often overlooked aspect of Medicaid services. Reliable transportation to and from scheduled medical appointments brings much needed assurance and stability to the portion of Medicaid recipients who cannot drive themselves. This is true for those living on their own, as well as those in residential care.
Ensuring all residents have reliable and safe transportation to and from a variety of treatment centers requires a tremendous amount of organization and detailed planning. When this process is carried out with anything less than 100 percent care and commitment, the result is much more than just a late pick-up or missed ride. It’s a missed post-surgery check-up, or a chemotherapy treatment forced to be rescheduled.
In the past, my residential care facility — Fernwood Rest Home — had seen this all too often. Our Litchfield facility cares for and houses approximately 65 full-times residents, all of whom have varying degrees of medical needs and diagnoses, many of whom are dependent on Medicaid or Social Security. With so many residents and so many needs, we routinely have up to 100 monthly trips, making us the busiest facility in Litchfield County. Some of our residents travel three to four times a week for ongoing treatment. The frequency of trips, along with our more rural location proved to be significant hurdles for previous NEMT brokers and transportation providers. Pick-ups were often late or entirely missed — this was such a common occurrence that some residents were dropped from their providers. Those who made it to their appointments on schedule were occasionally left stranded afterwards. On at least one occasion, a resident with severe allergies was picked up in a vehicle that was already carrying a dog.
As the administrator of Fernwood Rest Home, and as an advocate for the Medicaid community in general, I feel it’s necessary not only to speak about the negative issues related to previous brokers and providers, but to also shine a light on the positive changes. Many of these changes have come about in the last 18 months since Veyo was awarded the contract.
Although not without its initial issues, Veyo has proven its commitment to our state and our Medicaid population by working continuously with facility and transportation providers to develop a more reliable, efficient and transparent NEMT model. Veyo has become an integral partner to our facility, and helped ensure our residents receive consistent, high-quality rides to and from their treatment.
There will always be room to improve, I’m aware that no company is perfect. But the difference in reliability that I and the residents of Fernwood Rest Home have experienced over the last year and half has been night and day. The willingness of Veyo to make improvements, and to listen to its members and partners, has been a welcome change. I’m looking forward to continuing our relationship with Veyo, and bringing the residents of Fernwood Rest Home the best service possible.
Sean Kelly is administrator of Fernwood Rest Home.