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A surprise transport

July 28, 2014
by Kathleen Mears
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Several weeks ago, I made a routine appointment with an ear, nose and throat doctor. Because the facility is responsible for scheduling resident medical transportation, I gave the transportation aide my appointment information. I asked her to notify me if transportation was unavailable that day and she had to reschedule my appointment. When I did not hear from her, I thought she was taking me to the doctor.

When I awoke on the day of my appointment, I realized I did not know how I was being transported to my doctor's office. Since I had to be there at 10 a.m., I asked the aides to help me get ready early so I would be on time for my appointment.

After my personal care was completed, the aides transferred me into my power chair. The transportation aide told me an ambulette would pick me up at 9:30 a.m. to take me to the doctor. I asked why I was being transported by ambulette. She told me that two other residents had to be at separate appointments at 9:30 a.m., but she said she would meet me at the doctor's office.

I felt uneasy going alone in the ambulette. In the nearly four years I have lived at this facility, I have never been transported by ambulette. I also had the sniffles and most concerned. I trip everywhere since I cannot wipe my nose. That might sound silly, but a runny nose is embarrassing for me.

I went to the nurses' station to sign out, or to have someone sign out for me, but no one was there. The ambulette driver was waiting for me at the rear door. I asked if he had signed me out, and he gave me a blank look.

It was raining and the driver was holding a large umbrella. I told him I had not ridden in an ambulette for a while and that the lift would make me nervous. The driver was cordial and assured me he would do everything he could to make my trip pleasant.

As we chatted, I told the driver that I did not know I was going by ambulette until right before I left. I told him I wondered if the ambulette was a last-minute decision. He said he did not understand why I was not told and assumed facility staff would treat residents like friends and let them know what was going on. I told him I was not that familiar with the way the facility transports residents. During our conversation, the driver told me he had never transported a resident from my facility before.

I gave him the name and address of my doctor and we began our journey. He parked in the rear parking lot, which had a better wheelchair entrance.

I told him the transportation aide would meet me at the doctor's office, but he knew nothing about that arrangement. He took me to the waiting room where the transportation aide slipped in and stayed with me until my appointment was over. We waited in the parking lot for the ambulette. When it arrived, the transportation aide left and I was transported back to the facility.

I did not mind riding in an ambulette with such a pleasant driver. But I would have appreciated knowing beforehand that I would be transported that way. Then the "surprise element" would have been eliminated and I would have felt more prepared.


Kathleen Mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...