Wheechair Woes

April 15, 2010

A common complaint of families whose children use wheelchairs is trying to find a decent provider. Here’s a short history of our experience in the last ten years:

Provider A put Lauren in a chair with a “hard as a board” seat. We didn’t know very much about seating at the time but soon learned that you don’t have a child who is sitting in a chair all day sit on that type of seat.

Provider B built a new chair with better seating, except the footplates actually overlapped.

Provider C was the real gem. They changed Lauren’s seating once again which ended up with her sitting in a totally inappropriate position and replaced the footplates with new ones which broke immediately (we use a little bungee cord to hold them closed). But the best part was when we waited for months for them to just process the insurance paperwork. When I called to make an inquiry about the delay, the woman who answered the phone forgot to push the hold button before remarking to her co-worker on how she was going to have to “make up a big lie for this woman”. They had forgotten to process the paperwork. So, a few changes and a cleaning for Lauren’s chair took a year to accomplish.

Now we have held off as long as we can to make much needed repairs, but the tires have worn down to the threads and we can wait no longer. Inquiries to other parents about their providers have only resulted in more stories of woe rather than recommendations. A call to the manufacturer resulted in being told to look on a website for providers. I called several. A few were no longer in business, another, over an hour’s drive away, wanted $65 up front just to look at the chair, some were no longer affiliated with that manufacturer. So, I resorted to the phone book where I found a company an hour away that agreed to see the chair and thought they would be able to help us. Four weeks ago we took the chair in to them. The technician could not have been surlier while filling out the plethora of forms he needed to complete before even looking at the chair. Then he got to the part about what insurance Lauren had – he was suddenly quite helpful and even suggested we get an entire new chair! We decided to just make the repairs – new tires, armrests, fix the footplates (I hope).

We have been waiting patiently knowing the insurance paperwork takes time and, of course, they’ll need to order parts. The company called yesterday to announce they’ve figured out how much the repairs will cost. Four weeks just to figure that out??? But the best part was that they expect payment up front. They don’t “take assignment” if you own your own chair – like who else would own it? So, before they’ll proceed they want to be paid. Did they tell me this when they accepted the job? – Noooooo. Did I want to tell them what they could do with their bill? Yeeeessssss. But to do so would only delay things even more. So, I will send them their check, get the repairs done, and look for a better provider. Wish me luck!

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