Thursday, 6 March 2008

Transhelp - Transportation Cancelation Without Notice

Transhelp (Region of Peel -Ontario)
Public Transportation for those Physically Challenged

These days there is very little about human nature that surprises me however I have to wonder how many people would feign a disability in order to get subsidized door to door transportation? A slight limp, an undetectable heart condition? - maybe… But would someone acquire an $18,000, 350 lb electric wheelchair in order to dupe the transportation service?

While some clients of the Region of Peel’s Transhelp bus service are required to provide physician’s notes or be assessed in person at the Transhelp headquarters, I was never asked for proof of my disability. When first requesting the service in early March of 2007, I mentioned that I was in a power wheelchair and immediately was provided service.

I was using the invaluable service since March of 2007 as transportation to and from my hospital’s physiotherapy department 4 times a week, each and every week. A standing schedule was set up for my rides each and every day at set times. All I was required to do was to call up their automated service each night to confirm my intention make that trip.

Imagine my surprise when late last evening I called to confirm and the computer generated voice told me that I have no rides scheduled. The Transhelp office is closed at that hour, I have no ride yet I have an physiotherapy appointment early next morning. Frustration!!!

Well, it turns out that a year ago I was placed on a one year assessment?/probation?/whatever? and last night my access to the service expired!!! Firstly, I was never informed that I was placed on a one year assessment, no mention that I would have to re-qualify/re-apply after one year and also Transhelp finds no problem with shutting me off without any warning or notice. Now, this morning it’s a scramble to cancel my physiotherapy session and then to follow the red tape to re-qualify for transportation to my two physiotherapy sessions tomorrow.
Don’t you just love bureaucracy?!

All that said, the Transhelp service has been invaluable to me in providing transportation health care providers. As with any group of people you meet, different personalities will become evident. And so it is with the Transhelp drivers I’ve encountered over the last year. Some are loud gregarious chatters while others are subdued and quiet. Regardless, I have found all to be professional, friendly and helpful in what often are difficult circumstances. Whether dealing with illegally parked cars blocking hospital entrances or dealing with clients who may have a variety of physical or mental disorders, I have seen them take verbal abuse, threatened with physical abuse and watched deal rush hour traffic, reckless drivers and inclement weather without losing there cool.
To them I offer them my thanks.

This morning the Transhelp transportation co-ordinator said that a letter informing of the one year probation was mailed out when I was signed on. She stated I would need a re-assessement to re-qualify for the Transhelp service which presented a 'Catch-22' situation. I need Transhelp to get to their assesment office, but I can't get Transhelp until re-assessed! However, the co-coordinator was pleasant and helpful and waived the re-assessment. I was placed on permanent service, having verbally accepted my being in a wheelchair.

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