Elderly patient lost after taking Lyft - CBS46 News

Elderly patient lost after taking Lyft

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ATLANTA (CBS46) -

Receiving a phone call that your parent who has dementia is missing is among the worst nightmare for a caregiver, but that’s exactly what happened to one metro Atlanta resident when the company contracted with Medicaid failed to provide adequate transportation.

“The Lyft driver that picked him up, picked him up at 8 a.m. that morning, so I know he should have been there by 8:30 a.m. or quarter to 9 a.m.,” said Diane Fuller.

Fuller’s dad should have been taking to Sarah Care, an adult daycare facility in Snellville, but instead, he ended up at a nearby Lowe’s. But for several hours, no one knew where or when her dad was dropped off.

“When I got the call he was missing, all kind of thoughts went through my mind because my father doesn’t communicate,” added Fuller.

Eventually, Fuller’s dad was located, but Sarah Care representatives said this isn’t the first time this has happened and the issue is part of a bigger problem.

“These are dementia and Alzheimer’s participants, you need to find regular providers for them and not put them on the Lyft or Uber, it’s not safe,” said Maria Free, a representative with Sarah Care.

So why are ride share services like Lyft being used to transport patients with medical needs? CBS46 did some digging and we found out that the Department of Community Health contracted with brokering agency SoutheastTrans to provide transportation for Medicaid patients. SoutheastTrans then books drivers but when they were unable to find anyone they contacted Lyft for a pick-up. In a statement, SoutheastTrans said the Fuller’s dad exited the vehicle at the Sarah Care facility, but Sarah Care workers say that’s impossible. 

“He walks very slow, and like I said, he has dementia and if he was dropped off here there is no way he would have walked from here to Lowes” added Free.

We also reached out to the Department of Community Health and they sent us this statement:

“Per policy, NEMT Brokers are to use the most appropriate and cost-effective means of transportation available. In addition, DCH continually reviews its NEMT program policies and procedures to determine if changes, revisions, or enhancements are necessary."

I’m the meantime Fuller is worried this may happen to another family.

A  Lyft spokesperson also responded to the situation by saying: “The safety of the Lyft community is our number one priority, and we take this very seriously. We have been in touch with Southeast Trans and are working hard to get to the bottom of this issue.”

But Fuller says neither the comment from Lyft nor Dept. of Community Health does anything to ease fears that this situation will not happen again.

“Anything could have happened to him. I mean without him being able to tell anyone anything except his name,“ Fuller said.

Sarah Care officials say they have no choice in who picks up or drops of their clients, but they hope this situation will be a lesson learned to the transportation providers and that new policies will be implemented to prevent a similar insolent from happening again.

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