Go Wake transportation service leaves some elderly and disabled patients waiting for hours

RALEIGH, NC (WTVD) — Every once in a while, when Cameron Hicks leaves her doctor’s office, she finds a patient who had an appointment a few hours ago, waiting outside for a ride.

“We ended up having to drive them home ourselves. Because literally no one will come. One of the patients stayed here until 7 p.m. Our building closes around five,” she recalls.

Hicks works at UNC Rex Medical Plaza as a medical assistant. She said patients were waiting on the GoWake access transportation service. Hicks said about four times in the past six months the department has left patients waiting for hours.

“A patient, she had to reschedule her entire appointment because they were late picking her up to take her to her appointment. And then they left her here for seven or eight good, yeah, probably seven hours,” Hicks said.

GoWake Access is an on-demand shared transportation service that provides transportation to residents who are elderly, disabled, on Medicaid, or living in rural areas. Unlike a bus, the shuttles collect residents directly from their homes and drop them off at agreed locations, mainly for medical appointments.

“It makes me very angry and heartbroken for them. I mean, they rely on this service to take them back and forth, I mean there are people who don’t even track their health sometimes So the fact that they’re still trying to keep up and, you know, make their dates and that’s really their independence,” Hicks said.

She said that when she tried to call the service to help patients, she got many excuses and most of the time the buses still don’t show up.

“I just think it’s really unacceptable that you have people there on appointments all day. I mean, nobody really wants to sit all day at a doctor’s appointment and get say the same thing every 15 minutes you’re on the way but no one shows up. I don’t think that’s okay,” Hicks said.

Wake County is aware of some service delays and calls the incidents Hicks described “terrible.”

“If we are extremely late… nobody should have to accept that. What we would really like our customers to do is register complaints as soon as possible so that we can respond to them,” said Annemarie Maiorano, Wake County Health Department. Deputy Head of Department.

The county received about 194 complaints this year. A quarter of the tickets handled by the county involved complaints related to delays. Another 12% concerned the supplier who did not show up.

Around 600 people use the service per day and already almost 30,000 trips have been made in 2022. Complaints therefore represent only 1% of all trips made this year.

“So complaints due to being late or any other issues that someone might complain about are not the norm for our program. In fact, they are a very small percentage, but I just want you to know that they still not going well, even a single complaint is not okay because it means that one of our customers has had difficulties and we don’t want that,” Maiorano said.

However, county data shows the service is making fewer trips in a timely manner. Seventy-four percent of trips this year met overall time performance standards; This is a decrease of 14% since last year, when 86% of trips met the standard.

“It’s the result of having fewer drivers able to do the trips because if we don’t put the vans on the road then fewer drivers have to do more trips. So the result is less efficient,” said Maiorano.

Maiorano said the county was also down about 18 drivers. To fill these positions, the county increased salaries. Seven more vans will be added to service over the next 60 days after the county secures a second supplier. The second supplier will be able to serve approximately 100 more people per day.

Demand for service has increased by 14% over the past few months.

The county also says more than 300 runners a month don’t show up for their races, which helps with on-time performance.

The supplier the county is currently working with is financially punished if on-time is less than 86.9%. The supplier paid the county $30,000 for failing to meet standards in January and February. The provider will likely be charged an additional $15,000 for performance in March.

The county encourages any riders who are having trouble to call (919) 212-7155 Monday through Thursday, 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Riders can also call (919) 212-7005, press option 4 and leave their complaint and someone will get back to them. Complaints can also be filed online at WakeGov.com/GoWake.

Copyright © 2022 WTVD-TV. All rights reserved.

Comments are closed.