Company steps up to provide woman ride to dialysis treatments - WNEM TV 5

Company steps up to provide woman ride to dialysis treatments

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Source: WNEM Source: WNEM
SAGINAW COUNTY, MI (WNEM) -

A Mid-Michigan woman relies on public transportation to get to her vital dialysis treatments.

She needs to go three times a week, but she can only get a ride for two.

A non-profit group provides her with transportation services, but their rules prevent them from picking her up for that third treatment.

"It's not some place I want to go, it's some place I have to go," Joy Smiegel said.

She said she needs the treatments to survive. A van service provided by the Saginaw County Commission on Aging transports her to the hospital twice a week.

The county said there is not a ride available for her third treatment.

"It's very upsetting because it's difficult trying to find a ride. A third ride to save my life, basically that's it. I have to have dialysis. My kidneys are only functioning at four or five percent," Smiegel said.

The commission on aging said they have 13 people on the waiting list for transportation services.

Karen Courneya, director of the commission, said Smiegel is one of the lucky ones. She said with limited funding three rides a week for one person just isn't feasible.

"We're struggling to do the best we can for as many people as we can. So if we limit those rides to two per week then we can help more people," Courneya said.

So Smiegel reached out to the TV5 Rescue Squad. Holt Transport saw her story and decided to help.

"Holt Transport contacted them and they're a family owned business. They've offered me my third ride to dialysis for free as long as I need it," Smiegel said.

The company spokesperson Sam Miller delivered Smiegel the good news.

"When I saw her situation on TV5 the other night, I said we've got to do something," Miller said.

Miller said Smiegel isn't alone. There are several people like her to don't bring in enough money to pay for rides, but they make too much to receive help from government programs.

"The problem in particular that we see with dialysis patients is they don't qualify for Medicaid because they make a few dollars more than what the Medicaids allows. So they're stuck. They have no way of transportation unless they pay out of their pocket," Miller said.

In many cases, Miller said the money just isn't there. Which leaves patients with a difficult task of finding a way to their dialysis treatments or risk dying.

Thanks to Holt Transport, that burden has been lifted off of Smiegel's shoulders.

"That is such a blessing to me. I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving because I know I will now," Smiegel said.

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