82-year-old Mary Carol Edwards from Johnstown also known as “Butchie” is used to being out and about.
“I’m very busy, and I have a lot of friends. I’m on the go. I’m not a sitter,”
But after leg and toe problems, she can’t go down her steps, which means she can’t get out of her home.
She’s even had to cancel doctor’s appointments because of it.
“The scariest thing is if you’re in a place and you can’t get out of it. There’s no way I could get out of this house now with the way my leg is. That’s the scary part,” Mary said.
She contacted many transportation services to help her out of her home, but she says they all tell her it’s a “liability issue.”
Unless she can get to the door or curb by herself or with the help of family, friends, or neighbors then they can’t do anything.
“We tried, my husband and I both, every avenue. Nobody will take the liability of lifting a patient,” Mary told us.
There’s a wide variety of transportation services in Cambria County, many offering “door to door” or “curb to curb” services.
But what if you need help getting to that door or to that curb?
Josh Yoder, the Assistant Executive Director & COO for CamTran, says they’ve run into this issue with their “Reserve a Ride” program.
“It’s a very big liability. We’re not allowed to go into the home for insurance reasons. It becomes a barrier for them to get to use the services they need to get out and about,” he said.
Senator Langerholc said he’s interested in working on this problem, but thinks it could be met with pushback by insurance lobbyists.
“Yes, we have curbside services. Yes, we have people to pick you up and take you to your appointments. But what if these individuals are facing hurdles within their own home to get there? That’s kind of a gap within the process,” Senator Langerholc said.
Veil Griffith, the Administrator for the Cambria County Area Agency on Aging, says if you don’t have a family member or nice neighbor to help you exit your house, you might be out of luck.
So, you could call their agency to help make your house more handicap accessible (before calling those non-emergency transportation services).
“They could call our agency. In some cases, we are able to help with a guard rail, or something to make it a little bit safer to go, for example, down steps,” she told 6 News.
They don’t provide major devices, like stair lifts, but their case workers can help families obtain those items.
Mary says they’re getting a stair lift on their own soon, so that eventually she can get to the outside world once again.