CARROLL COUNTY, Ga. - Drivers providing non-emergency transportation for Medicare patients told Channel 2 Investigative Reporter Wendy Halloran the vans they sometimes use to transport children are extremely dangerous.
The company they work for, Quality Trans Inc., is part of a statewide network of transit providers working under Georgia’s Department of Community Health with taxpayer money. After Channel 2 brought drivers' complaints to one of the state contractors that manages Quality Trans, they’ve launched their own investigation.
Halloran previously reported on Quality Trans employees’ paychecks bouncing.
"It's so dangerous, whereas I don't want to keep driving this van like this," Donella Wilson told Halloran. Wilson said she was so worried she quit working for Quality Trans after our interview.
A Channel 2 photographer rode with Wilson in her transport van to document the conditions.
"The brakes go all the way to the floor,” Wilson said. “I have to pump them, pump to make sure we stop."
Wilson, and other drivers, said the vans are old, have bald tires, hundreds of thousands of miles on them and are not properly maintained.
"All the vans, they're just terrible you know,” driver LaTasha Key said. “It's not safe enough for the people to be transporting or the kids to be transported. It's not good conditions at all.”
An investigation this fall by the Atlanta Journal Constitution revealed safety concerns with LogistiCare, one of two transportation management companies contracted by the Georgia Department of Community Health that works with Quality Trans. The paper’s investigation revealed 25 complaints involving Quality Trans since 2014.
"Once they go up to a certain speed the van starts to shake," said Kateland Keith, who worked as a monitor for Quality Trans.
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AJC records documented that customers complained of 12 avoidable injuries, and three allegedly caused by patients not properly strapped in.
"It's too late. Bam we fly. The seat belts didn't even lock like they're supposed to on impact," Key told Halloran.
She said Quality Trans vehicles have been involved in four wrecks recently.
"My passenger went into the rail, busted his eye. I went into the steering wheel like hard you know," Key said.
A LogistiCare spokesperson told Channel 2 by email:
“We appreciate this being brought to our attention. Because of your tight deadline, we can’t verify the particular vehicles or gather that information. While Quality Trans also provides transportation services to more than just LogistiCare, we can only speak to what we know. Driver complaints about vehicles are something we take very seriously. It is alarming to us, so we will investigate this situation with Quality Trans ASAP. At LogistiCare, every ride and every member matters.”
Of the 21 vehicles Quality Trans operates, seven failed LogistiCare inspections this year. Although LogistiCare records show state wide inspection failures are rare, driver Tina Keith said Quality Trans vehicles are in great need of repair.
“My van has got holes in the seats and springs are out. Kids, they rip their pants, they get cut," Keith said. "I feel like I shouldn't even be in them.”
Halloran tried to reach Quality Trans Inc. but no one answered the phone at the company’s office and the voicemail box was full. A spokesperson for the Department of Community Health declined to comment on the driver’s claims.
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