ANCHORAGE, Alaska — LifeMed Alaska has closed its Wheelchair Van operation effective immediately due to an unexpected change in the Municipality of Anchorage’s “Vehicle for Hire” regulations (AMC Title 11.10-11.40).
LifeMed Alaska previously provided wheelchair van transports under the Choice Medicaid Waiver Program to qualified patients (approximately 90%), as well as some private pay patients. The change required LifeMed to abide by the “Vehicle for Hire” regulations.
The “Vehicle for Hire” regulations include an annual fee per vehicle, periodic inspections at an automotive maintenance shop appointed by the Municipality of Anchorage, a surveillance recording system installed in each vehicle, and a chauffeur's license for each wheelchair van driver.
“We operated our wheelchair division as a charity for patients in Anchorage,” said LifeMed CEO Scott Kirby. “We are disappointed that this turn of events has resulted in this outcome,” he added.
For the past 16 years, LifeMed’s 13 wheelchair vans traveled the streets of Anchorage every day transporting patients to and from dialysis, chemotherapy, medical appointments, pharmacies, assisted living facilities and other medical facilities. With 13 employees dedicated to the Wheelchair Van operations, LifeMed performed over 17,000 round trip wheelchair van transports each year. Additionally, LifeMed’s patients were able to reserve their ride 30 days in advance.
LifeMed's wheelchair van drivers were licensed in CPR, received federal background checks, emergency vehicles operators course (EVOC), safety program training, and ICS 100/200/700 (FEMA classes for incident command).
"We care about our patients and have always provided a bed-to-bed service,” said Kirby. “Over the years, our patients have trusted our drivers to assist them with their personal belongings, sign their medications in and out, and escort them from their homes to their appointments safely and on-time” Kirby added. “We are thankful we were given the opportunity to provide this valuable service to the community of Anchorage for 16 years.”
LifeMed is committed to assisting patients who have current reservations with finding alternate transportation. Patients can call one of the following services for future medical transportation needs:
BAC Transportation, LLC
Quick Rides, LLC
268-8266 or 268-9248
Alaska Yellow Cab
Blue Trans, LLC
LifeMed will provide a severance package and resume writing training to each employee affected by this closure. This closure in no way affects LifeMed's air ambulance or ground ambulance operations.
About LifeMed Alaska
LifeMed Alaska provides critical care air ambulance services throughout Alaska with full-scope transports for adult, pediatric, neonate and high-risk obstetric patients using a fleet of Learjets, turboprops, and helicopters. The company’s comprehensive medical transportation services include ALS ground ambulance operations in Anchorage. Its combination of air and ground ambulances staffed by highly-skilled medical professionals plays an integral role in Alaska’s emergency medical systems. LifeMed acquired TransCare Medical Services in July 2010 to form its Wheelchair Van operation at its Anchorage base transporting patients to and from hospitals, assisted living facilities, treatment facilities, medical facilities and private residences.
For more information, visit www.lifemedalaska.com.