WARWICK, R.I. (WPRI) — Alaina Macia, CEO of Medical Transportation Management (MTM), is not proud of her company’s launch in Rhode Island but says the system is now stable.

“We need to rebuild trust,” Macia said during an interview at MTM’s office in Warwick.

The R.I. Executive Office of Health and Human Services (EOHHS) hired MTM to transport elderly and disabled Rhode Islanders to medical appointments, including kidney dialysis and chemotherapy treatments. Since the company’s Jan. 1 launch, more than a thousand people have reported late rides or no-shows.

“It pains me to hear those things,” Macia said. “We have more work to do, but service has stabilized.”

“Last week, you could get through to the call center in under 20 seconds,” she added. “Transportation has improved greatly. Complaints with transportation are now less than 1% of all trips booked.”

On a typical day, MTM handles about 5,000 trips in Rhode Island. That means about 50 rides a day come with a complaint.

MTM, a family-owned company, is based in St. Louis and operates non-emergency transportation services in 28 states. Macia said Rhode Island is one of the most challenging rollouts the company has experienced and acknowledged the company was not ready to launch.

“In hindsight, I think you can say no, we weren’t,” Macia said. “I think going into it, we’re accustomed to working with large transportation vendors that have their own dispatch and technology and we’re just really interfacing with them.”

Macia says it’s different in Rhode Island. MTM works with 86 transportation providers. Some only have a couple of vehicles in their fleet.

“Sometimes a transportation provider might take more trips than they can really handle or they might have a driver call out sick or they could just get behind in their daily routes,” Macia explained. “Now we’re really focused on holding transportation providers accountable.”

By April 1, the goal is to have 100% of transportation providers using real-time GPS tracking.

Macia said MTM has also implemented a series of improvements: extra staff, additional training for employees and transportation providers, an advisory committee that includes members who have voiced concerns, and new portals for medical facilities to see scheduled trips. 

Calls into MTM are also recorded and analyzed to identify potential problems. 

“They get sent to our quality department to investigate and proactively address issues,” Macia said. “We don’t want to hide the issues. We want to find the root cause and fix them going forward.”

“We will get there,” she vowed.

Last week, Rhode Island’s Medicaid director revealed MTM will be fined for its rocky launch, but the exact amount had not yet been decided upon.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.