Transportation company under fire blows off county agency

10:08 PM, Mar 14, 2012   |    comments
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CLEARWATER, Fla. -- A company that's paid millions by the county to pick up Medicaid patients and take them to doctor's appointments was a no-show again, except this time they were a no-show at the Pinellas Metropolitan Planning Organization meeting.

The meeting was to address problems the Greater Pinellas Transportation Medical System is having getting the ill and elderly to the doctor.

"What am I going to do? I got doctor's appointments and I need to go to them all," says Claudette Logan from her motorized scooter. Logan is legally blind. She was handed a bus pass by the company instead being sent a cab, which usually picks her up.

Logan was told her non emergency Medicaid transportation was being cut off by GPTMS, the company which took over the Pinellas contract in January. She was told she would have to take the bus from now on.  "My eye doctor said, 'With your vision, there is no way you can get on a bus to go anywhere,'" she says.

GPTMS Director David McDonald ran away and jumped in an elevator to get away from the 10NEWS Investigators last week when we wanted to ask him a few questions. On Wednesday, he figuratively ran away from the county, who wanted to ask him some questions too. During the meeting, the call for GPTMS to address the meeting and answer commissioners' questions fell on deaf ears.

"I don't see anybody from the GPTMS in this room," said an annoyed Commissioner Neil Brickfield.

Company critics tell us GPTMS apparently feels it doesn't have to answer to anybody. "He has the contract now, what does it matter? He's getting the money no matter what," says social worker Regina Weilbacker, who has had to deal with the aftermath of getting patients to their appointments when GPTMS doesn't show up. She just wants the company to do what they're paid to do.

"People are still having problems. People at home are not getting their rides and, for me, I'm waiting online 45 minutes just to get through." Weilbacker also told commissioners she can only call 15 days in advance, not the usual 30 days, which she says makes it harder for her to plan for her patients.

While GPTMS appears to be running away from us and the county to keep from taking responsibility for problems with their service, people like Claudette Logan are getting the short end of the stick and taxpayers are paying for it.

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