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Medical transportation stigma

December 27, 2009
by Kathleen Mears
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Over the years I learned that medical appointments arranged by the nursing facility can be confusing. Many times resident appointments were set up only to have the transportation fall through. Then the appointment had to be rescheduled. I have never known if it was the mistake of the facility or the ambulette company.

Changes in Medicare and Medicaid payments have resulted in residents being transported to medical appointments by facility staff in facility vehicles. Years ago I began to schedule my own appointments. Since I had my own van here, there was an available vehicle. Doing the scheduling myself allowed me to feel like I had some control and knew what was supposed to happen.

During 2009's breast cancer recurrence there were many appointments. The facility has arranged some of the transportation and actually took me to other appointments. But I am usually uneasy when I have to depend on the facility for a driver and a vehicle.

Nursing home residents are treated differently by doctor's offices and medical facilities. Though it may not be every doctor or medical facility, several treat residents as if they have no idea what is going on. Even though sometimes that might be the case, I think nursing home residents should be given the benefit of the doubt.

When I called to schedule an appointment for a radiation oncologist consultation, the scheduler questioned me about scheduling my own appointment. I learned my consultation had been scheduled for 9 a.m., which was not good for me. I asked for a later time and was quickly given 10:30 a.m. But I could hear some discomfort in her voice.

Schedulers are probably uncomfortable because they do not deal directly with nursing home residents. My scheduler also could not give me any idea how long my appointment might last. Having some idea helps me and the person transporting me. But all I could do was guess that my appointment might be as short as 30 minutes or as long as 90 minutes.

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Kathleen Mears

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