Good Wheels medical transportation is suspending its services, effective immediately at the end of the day on Wednesday.
Joan Gordon depends on Good Wheels to get to her doctor’s appointments because she is unable to drive.
“I do have one scheduled for the 29th,” Gordon said, “and now I have not been contacted by them to tell me they can’t do it.”
Lee County will not be giving the transportation service the $400,000 it needs to continue operating, according to a press release. Good Wheels provided rides for disabled and disadvantaged patients and operated in Lee, Charlotte, Hendry, Glades and Collier counties.
Alan Mandel, Good Wheels CEO, confirmed that Lee Tran will be taking over for some of the services, but the extent of what they will take over was not revealed. He told WINK News the non-profit is out a $1 million because different federal and state agencies have not paid up.
“We have to rely on reimbursements from governments to keep functioning,” Mandel said.
The Lee County Government released the following statement to those affected:
Disadvantaged and disabled individuals – or their caregivers – who are seeking information about Good Wheels discontinuing service may be able to receive assistance from Lee County Transit (LeeTran). The Lee Board of County Commissioners has directed staff to use available transit resources to ensure riders who are considered “medical critical” are prioritized for service. For more information, call 239-533-0300, email VWalters@leegov.com or visit https://www.leegov.com/leetran.
Rick Kolar, the Charlotte County transit manager, said to WINK News:
“In the meantime, we are asking anyone impacted by Good Wheels suspending operations to call Charlotte County transportation and we will provide services to them, while the state works on finding a new provider.”
Lee County District 4 Commissioner Brian Hamman said:
“It’s always we need more money or were shutting down. Taking over medically necessary which is like 150 trips a day Using PASSPORT service that they have now. It’s similar. This is short term solution while they work on long term.”
Glades County, in a statement, said:
Glades County was informed yesterday afternoon that they have run out of funding and that the service would no longer be available in our county. The Region is the works of a solution but do not have one at this time. This is not just a Glades County issue this is a regional issue.
Hendry County administration is working with local, regional and state organizations in order to ensure that Hendry County residents continue to receive transportation disadvantaged service in the area with minimal interruption.
Beginning on Thursday at 8 a.m., residents with questions or concerns regarding transportation disadvantaged services in Hendry and Glades counties are asked to contact (863) 612-4700.
Staff in the former can take calls at the same number from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. The county said it will continue the assistance until a new service provider assumes the role in the area.
For staff that is now out of a job, the transition is hard. Anthony Mariano tries not to get choked up thinking about all the people he has helped and grown close to over the years.
“They’re wheel-chair bound, blind,” Mariano said. “It’s just a terrible way to leave people.”
Mariano’s thoughts are with the people who still need help. Mariano said he wishes there was better communication about the situation.
“Good group of people working there,” Mariano said. “I never had any problems with anybody. But communication from the upper echelon to the working man was non-existent.”
If you are impacted by this email into email@example.com to voice your thoughts on the suspension of transportation services.