Transportation vehicle guidelines MUST be revised to actually meet the needs of the people forced to utilize them. Certainly, no one that did not absolutely have to would take advantage of most public transportation vehicles, and definitely would not choose to use Texas Medical Transportation as it now stands. The vehicles themselves are atrocious for the ill and elderly to have to travel for any distance; but being forced to spend hours in such inhospitable vehicles is sadistic. The last thing a truly ill person, or even an elderly person going for a check-up or preventative medical appointment doesn't need to be so physically uncomfortable, for what usually turns out to be many hours. Often the LeFleur vans are so loud from air coming in through unsealed doors or windows that the noise level is uncomfortable without anyone talking(or shouting to be heard). Then there is the bouncing up and down, worse than a school bus - but as the passengers are older much more difficult to deal with. People in wheelchairs are strapped in for the bumpy ride, while others get to sit on very small individual metal seats that are armless and sometimes backless. Ill persons, people in pain, need a reasonably comfortable environment...at least better than healthy 4-H animals. I have on many occassions traveled in the TMT vans leaving before 7:00am and not getting home until after 7:00pm and not being allowed to go to lunch because my doctor sent me for tests or MRI's(the van driver would refuse to stop anywhere - just for me, while he and/or others had lunch). I have been the only passenger, had two appointments in one day(definitely wanting to make as few trips as possible)and had the van driver that had been just hanging out while waiting for me to go to my next appointment be over and hour late to pick me up(after I called him when the office I was at turned out their lights) when at that time of the day he should have been able to make it from anywhere in McAllen in about 15 minutes. So, I have to reschedule. The vans used for Medical Transportation should be comfortable for the patients, reasonablly airtight, and they should all be equipped with comfortable seating that has a place for very ill patients to lie down. Because of patient allergies, and susceptibility to catching diseases from others, seat covers should be plastic or leather that is easier to clean and less likely to hold bodily fluids or allergens. Seats for passengers should be padded and have lumbar support, 3-6 hours of traveling is hard on ill or elderly persons. It usually takes me several days in bed to get over the "van trips". The program was much more humane in years past when I had a "private contractor" to take me in their own car. Then there was a problem with billing and I had to pay for gas, as I still often do out of my apx. $600. income. I have sent in many, many forms that did not get reimbursed. When the trasportation was switched from the D.O.T. to the D.H.S. things REALLY became a nightmare!!!! After submitting the same forms over and over again, mailing and faxing them four times and not receiving ANY reimbursement for over 5 months the driver I had found said she was too frustrated to re-apply(as she was asked to do having not received money from anyone but me for 5 months). Now, vans are no longer available for medical trips to McAllen, I have to ride a bus. The bus terminal in the town where I live is a small grocery store. The owner can't tell you correctly when any buses come or go; has written "one-way" on a round-trip ticket she had already been paid for; writes out the "bus tickets" by hand on old charge card forms, often incorrectly (the bus driver has cussed about it shocking a friend that took me to the "bus station"); she closes the store at random times - so you have to learn to get your ticket ahead of time, which she is of course very reluctant to let you do - even though she will leave before a bus is scheduled to leave. Way too much fun. Taking the bus makes me get to a doctor's appoinment only at midmorning. I have to find transportation from the bus station in old downtown McAllen to from one to three blocks from the Edinburg-McAllen dividing street. It's very difficult to get to an appointment on time and to get appointments only at one specific time. If I am late, depending on the day I may get to wait outside until after 2:00 when the office opens again, and pray I get seen and back to the 3:20pm bus back home or I have to wait until 11:00 pm to leave and arrive at the closed store in Premont at around 1:30 am and hope I can find someone home and willing to stay up or wake up to pick me up and take me home. It's such an ordeal that have skipped many appointments in the last 6 months, so when I do go I am very ill or have to have surgery, or a doctor refuses to refill a prescription again without a visit.
It would be much more cost effective for the government to give me a car or van equipped with a lift and a GSA SmartPay2 card for medical trips. It would save them 60% of what they are now paying for me alone each month, and if I coordinated medical visits for neighbors and others now having to use the horrid Texas Medical Transpotation system, much more than that! Less stress would lead to fewer appointments, as would the freedom to drive to a pharmacy the same day as the medical visit, or to another pharmacy in the large city that would have a prescription in stock, instead of having to make 2-5 roundtrips to another smaller town before I eventually get all the medications filled. There is no longer a doctor or pharmacy in my town. There needs to be some drastic creativity in the revision to transportition vehicle guidelines AND IN THE TEXAS MEDICAL TRANSPORTATION system that actually envisions, addresses, and meets the myriad of needs that those depending on the vehicles have. I hear many similar complaints from citizens across the state of Texas. Austinites and other urban dwellers are marching and complaining about the same transpotation vehicle guidlines that those of us in rural South Texas are. It's time for drastic action that MAKES SENSE; not just the same old reshuffling and "updating" of what was there before. Make the transportation more comfortable and appropriate for passengers, more functional, save LARGE amounts of money for taxpayers, stimulate the economy by placing surplus vehicles where they will do the most good, restore hope to the hopeless, cut unneccessary expenditures and "padding", and give people that have the least control over their own lives some autonomy and dignity. Do the right thing for all concerned!