CRANSON, R.I. (WPRI) — While MTM CEO Alaina Macia was apologizing to the R.I. House Oversight Committee for her company’s rocky launch of non-emergency medical transportation services in the state, Raymond Brisson was settling in for an unexpected overnight stay in Boston, the result of an MTM ride that was a no-show.
“I was very afraid,” Brisson told Call 12 for Action. “Being blind and being terminally ill, I was fearing for my life.”
Last Thursday, MTM picked up Brisson at his Cranston apartment for a 2:15 p.m. appointment in Boston. When it was over, Brisson says he spent hours on the phone with MTM trying to figure out how to get home.
“They just gave me all kinds of different reasons,” Brisson recalled. “‘You’ve got a Lyft driver, you’ve got an Uber driver, an independted taxi. You have a van coming to pick you up.’ And I just waited and waited and waited and my phone died.”
When the doctor’s office closed, Brisson was forced to find somewhere else to wait. He says he ended up in the waiting room of a hospital emergency department.
“I walked back and stayed there all night,” he said. “It was a nightmare.”
In a statement to Call 12 for Action, MTM CEO Alaina Macia said, “Due to several breakdowns in communication, Mr. Brisson was not picked up after his appointment and we learned of his experience from the WPRI report. Our team immediately reached out to Mr. Brisson to apologize and he was exceptionally gracious and understanding.”
“Our team is horrified by this incident and and we are pulling together all the information we have to identify where and why these communications breakdowns occurred, Macia added. “The service MTM provides in Rhode Island is improving every day but challenges remain and Mr. Brisson’s experience is grossly unacceptable.”
MTM was contracted by Rhode Island to ensure low-income and disabled individuals have rides to medical appointments, but complaints about late and missed pickups have flooded the state’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS).
Now, a document provided to Call 12 for Action reveals MTM was woefully unprepared to execute its contract with the state.
MTM’s 50-page corrective action plan contains multiple attachments. Portions of the plan were redacted.
Among the key findings:
- MTM acknowldeges an “unacceptable volume of missed trips due to vendor no-shows, no vendor available, and cancelled appointments.”
- MTM underestimated the number of employees it would need in its call centers. According to the report, MTM projected the staffing need to be 25, but has determined the current need is 60.
- Fewer than half of the 138 R.I. transportation providers completed training with MTM.
- MTM is not collecting real-time GPS data from transportation providers. According to the report, MTM surveyed its transportation providers and found 74% have GPS trip tracking capabilities in their vehicles.
- There was a delay in credentialing transportation providers. According to MTM, many lacked “basic technological capabilities to subit credentials electronically…leaving MTM receiving an extraordinary volume of paper credentials that our copier could not keep up with.”
According to the plan, MTM is has is in the process of making several changes, including a ‘hiring blitz’ of dozens of employees, retraining existing employees and transportation providers, and improving the collection of real-time GPS data from transportation providers.
In a statement provided to Call 12 for Action, MTM spokesperson Ashley Wright said the company is working closely with the state on the changes.
“We are in constant contact, have daily update phone calls, and are working 24/7 to address issues as they arise,” she said. “We have seen improvement every day and are committed to delivering the high-quality service that Rhode Islanders deserve.”
EOHHS spokesperson Meghan Connelly said, “The corrective action plan is comprehensive, involving implementing an escalation process and improving customer service, among other measures.”
“We continue to hold MTM to fulfilling their contractural obligations to Rhode Island,” Connelly added. “The corrective action period will continue until all deficiencies have been appropriately remedied.”
MTM’s 3.5 year contract with the state is worth up to $115 million.
“I urge our riders to contact us to discuss any problems with your service so that we can identify and eliminate issues as quickly as possible,” Macia said. “We appreciate the outpouring of support from the facilities, our transportation providers, and members and are grateful for the collaboration with EOHHS.”