Non-emergency Medical Transport for Hard to Move Patients
Are you caring for someone who uses a wheelchair or who is usually in a hospital bed, someone who is relatively immobile? So, how do you get them to doctor appointments when you can’t lift them or fit them comfortably in your car? That is not an uncommon problem and there are many ways to assist these patients with comfortable transportation. It’s called non-emergency medical transport.
Affordable non-emergency medical transport services are available in major cities to transport a patient to his doctor’s appointment. Medicaid and Medicare will pay for it if your doctor prescribes this assistance because it is medically necessary. Some insurance plans may cover it for necessary medical visits. Many major hospital centers have this service available to patients.
Try Your Home Care Therapist
Talk with your doctor or home-care therapist about the best choice to fit your needs, and what is affordable and available in your area. A nurse, occupational therapist or physical therapist would be able to advise you the caregiver about how to best move a particular patient considering their abilities and limitations so the patient can access the non-emergency medical transport services.
Companies that transport patients and that are paid by government agencies such as Medicaid and Medicare must meet certain safety standards. Most doctors’ offices will have a preferred transport service that they will call. In some states, the doctor’s office must book the transport for you to be covered under Medicaid or Medicare. First, contact your doctor’s office to see if they cooperate with a particular transportation service and learn the procedure for getting the paperwork done before you book the service.
However, you may also choose a transport company yourself if you are paying for the service yourself. Look up non-emergency medical transport in the phone book or online. Ask if they are authorized for Medicare or Medicaid and inquire about their safety record.
Consider These Options
- Vans with a wheelchair lift . A wheelchair lift will lower a platform to the level of the patient on the sidewalk and the patient can be rolled onto the lift. Then, the wheelchair is secured to the platform and the platform is lifted into the van. This is perfect for transporting a patient able to sit upright in a manual or transport wheelchair. Often, a caregiver can ride along in regular van seat.
- Non-emergency medical transport with stretcher. This type of transportation is meant for patients who are unable to get out of bed, unable to stand and walk, unable to sit, and unable to tolerate any activity out of bed. Here there are attendants and a driver who will remove the patient from his bed at home and place the patient in the vehicle on a stretcher. They will place the patient on a wheeled stretcher when they arrive at the physician’s office, hospital or clinic. Extremely frail or terminally ill persons, persons with Alzheimer’s or psychiatric illness, and persons with quadriplegia are some of the kinds of patients who are best suited by this kind of transportation service.
- The American Cancer Society Road To Recovery program provides free transportation in some areas for people with cancer who do not have a ride or are unable to drive themselves to treatment. Patients must be traveling to a cancer-related medical appointment, and other eligibility requirements may apply. Call 1-800-227-2345 to apply for service before your appointment date.
There may be an extra charge to transport a person besides the patient in these kinds of vehicles. If the service is being paid by Medicaid, Medicare or an insurance company, the transport company is responsible to those agencies for delivering good service. If you are paying for the service, then the company is accountable to you, the customer.
Unfortunately, I have heard several complaints about the transport services in my area. I recommend that a caregiver ride with the patient if at all possible, or at least, monitor what is being done. Be proactive. When you use a wheelchair transport service, be sure to get the name of the service and the name of the driver. If you are not satisfied with the arrival time of the service vehicle, the behavior of the attendant and driver, or the departure time of the service vehicle, report your complaint to the company and to agency which is paying for the service. There should be no excuses for tardiness, rudeness, or safety risks for the patient when using medical transportation services.
There is a way to get the patient to medical appointments, so don’t postpone or forget those important medical visits. Get information about the non-emergency transportation services available in your area which are suitable for the patient and for your budget.