Friday, 29 August 2008

Manual Wheelchair Frustrations

My #%$@* Frustrations
In Dealing With A Health Care Company

While in hospital an electric wheelchair was chosen for me by the facility. The chair served me well and continues to do so but with my increasing mobility I had a desire to get out into society on my own schedule and not have to rely on handicapped transit . Handicapped transit has also served me well but trips have to be booked 24 hours in advance and the small pickup time window must be strictly adhered to. As I am now able to stand, step and transfer, family and health care professionals suggested I look into getting a manual chair to complement the electric one. With the manual chair I could transfer to our private car and come and go as I please for outings which would be both physically and mentally rewarding.

As ADP (Assisted Devices Program) helped defray the full cost of my electric chair, I was not entitled to funding for the manual chair.
It is my understanding that a second chair (backup) is a luxury.
The total cost of this chair was my responsibility.

With the assistance of my Occupational Therapist, a suitable chair was chosen and an order was placed with a major health care franchise. The Occupational Therapist pre-warned me that each health care company offers its own difficulties when dealing with them.
I was about to find out how true this was.

On August 29th of 2007 an order was placed with the company and I was informed the delivery time would be about 2 weeks. The wheelchair would be “on trial" for me to determine if the arrangement of components suited my needs.

Below is the timetable that I ended up being subjected to.
See if you, the reader, feel this time frame and business practice is acceptable.

As a quick summary, the promised 2 weeks turned into 4 months at which time the wrong chair with the wrong seat by the wrong manufacturer was delivered. It took almost another 7 months to get the proper seating requested from day one, and to get the proper backrest. Within days, I received a phone call from the company suggesting they could send a driver around to pick up my cheque (payment in full). Now that’s $6300 for two bicycle tires, a seat, some metal tubes and plastic footrests. Wow! I really didn’t expect that price. Each item must be individually inspected and blessed by the Minister of Health.

August 29th, 2007
-Wheelchair Ordered
-Requested Quickie 2 (Order says EZ Ride)
-2 weeks delivery time stated (later changed to November 5th due to “special order” size/weight issues.
-requested simple cloth/cushion back (cheap) as not primary chair
-car transport and backup only. Discouraged - talked into rigid back
-J2 Deep Seat Cushion Ordered.

January 25th, 2008
-Wheelchair delivered. (Wrong Wheelchair delivered - Maple Leaf Brand)
-Correct chair Quickie 2 however is on the delivery form.
-Not a Quickie 2 Wheelchair but rather a Maple Leaf Brand!!
-Wrong Seat Cushion delivered. (correct make on invoice)

February 19th, 2008
-Correct Wheelchair delivered (Quickie 2)
-Wrong seat cushion once again delivered (correct make on invoice)
-No instruction/parts/user manual comes with chair.

April 9th, 2008
-New seat cushion delivered
-second delivery of wrong make and model of seat cushion. (correct make on invoice).
-Rigid back not comfortable - requested J2 Plus cushion on advice from OT.
-one wheelchair tire not holding pressure . Technician delivering back has no idea what correct pressure should be.

April 11th, 2008
-Seat cushion delivered - third delivery of wrong make and model of seat cushion. (correct make on invoice)
-Change back support to J2 Plus
-Plastic stiffener added to prevent cushion from “folding or drooping’ when seated.
-Wheelchair tire still won’t hold pressure.
-Technician takes chair with him to add back support brackets. Brings back chair with leaky tire inflated but unsure of pressure.

April 14th, 2008
-Correct seat cushion finally delivered on 4th attempt.

June 25th, 2008
-Matrix Elite Back delivered
-Tire continues to leak pressure

August 29th, 2008
Bill-invoice arrives for chair (Dated August 2nd)

September 4th, 2008
Supplier's Accounts Department calls asking if they can send a driver over to pick up the full payment. (like I have $6300 at home or have managed to submit, have approved and been reimbursed that amount from my insurance provider.)

One Year almost to the day to receive my basic manual wheelchair after initially being informed that it would take 2 weeks to assemble!!! Is this competence??

Now in this day and age of e-mails, faxes, phones, couriers and overnight shipping, why does it take months to get any particular part? Do they have to write a letter, sent by boat to China to have some child labourer hammer out a wheel when any particular order is submitted?

Read about my insurance woes in the next post.

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