Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Wheelchairs from hell

You wouldn't think that getting an electric wheelchair would be a big deal.  I just need to warn you, because I wish somebody would have warned me, you have to have a degree in business, one in negotiations, one in interpretation, one in communications and it wouldn't hurt to have one in basket weaving or quantum physics, just to get a wheelchair that you want to live with for a few years. (Five to be exact because that is the payment protocal for Medicair.)

Here's what I now know that I wish I had known a year ago.  Electric wheelchairs are outrageously expensive, (as much a most cars), the competition among companies is subtle but brutle because so much money is involved.  The companies know how to play on your weakness (life change, at you mercy kind of thing.)  Wheelchair technitions are way over worked.  They are generally nice people just trying to earn a decent wage and the company that is behind them stands to make huge money from Medicair or other insurance with little apparent concern for the long hours the technitions are spending just trying to keep the darn things appropriately running and fit to the patient. 

And, when it comes to "fit to the patient,"  Oh, my, God, that is another whole deal.  We are on our fifth electric wheelchair.  It went like this.  In August of last year a guy came out and measured Jed, asked a few questions and walked out saying, "It will be about 3 month."  Naive that we were we smiled and said, "okay, we'll see you in Novemeber." 

We're generally nice people and not big complainers (that's changing) so we gave them an extra month, and then my dad died and so by the time we called,  it was January.  "Oh, yes, we're expecting that any day." (We were dumb enough to believe even that.) 

Then one day they brought a "loaner," saying the custom chair would be here soon.  Well, the "custom" chair arrived sometime in February and it was far from custom.  No tray, no adjustable back or legs, many problems.  "What about...?"  we would say,  "Any day." we would get. 

Then.  Then the original rep walked into my shop.  She and most of the reps were either fired or left and our account was caught up in a law suit............The plot thickened.  Did we want to be dealing with a sleazy company, even though we we now close to comfort?   

Our eyes begin to open a bit and we started to make demands.  Hopping through hoops began and that's where we still are.  We've gone to another company, have yet another "demo" chair in the house now and I'm thinking of building an addition just to hold the chairs.  As I speak, we have two $40,000 electric wheelchairs, one manual wheelchair and two rolling commods in the once Victorian Music room. 

Just today, I had one technition here for 3 hours adjusting a leg rest (can you believe they tried to push a chair made for another person with one leg 2 inched shorter than the other on us, without telling us?) And tomorrow at 8:00 another technition is picking up a demo and hoping for a "let's go with this one," response to the use of his fancy bells and whistles chair.  I'm exhausted. 

Today Jed started to say something like, "let's just settle for whatever," but I wouldn't let him.  I said, "Jed, you have every right to have the most comfortable and best chair available and we will not settle for, "yeah, it's okay, now just leave us alone."  He smiled and said, "That's what Jeff said."  Jeff is his doctor brother whom is held in high regard. 

So the wheelchair experience continues.  Little did I know.  Literally.  The mark up on these things must be amazing.  I would like this experience behind us, but not at the risk of settling for little comfort. 

If this can save one person from the mess we've been in, then it is worth repeating over an over. 

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