(Editor’s note: The Journal thoroughly fact-checked this letter by interviewing the author Amy Herdy, the 84-year-old woman in the story, the hairdresser mentioned in the letter and Curt VanHyning, RoundTowner chairman. The driver also wrote a letter to the Journal stating that the events listed below are not accurate in his opinion. The driver asserted that no one told him the client was in a wheelchair and If he had known she had a wheelchair he would “have borrowed the MV-1 from the Mullis Center.” He added that he was not “rude but was quite unhappy. And, I recall, that the [client] was not terribly upset but offered her sympathy with our efforts.”)
In response to April 12 letter to the editor, “Help on the Road.” The letter stated that the RoundTowner serves “low-income seniors, elderly and disabled rural residents of our county” but the public should know there could be a problem if that person is in a wheelchair.
In January, I booked the Round Towner for my 84-year-old mother, who broke her hip in November and moved into Life Care Center in December, to take her to a salon appointment down the street as I was going to be out of town. They were told she was in a wheelchair but that she could transfer herself from the chair to a vehicle, and that her wheelchair would then need to be folded and placed in the vehicle.
Not a problem, they said, but that was not the case. My mother said the driver became angry about the wheelchair, telling her repeatedly that he had a bad back. Her leg hurt that day so she asked if she could sit in the back seat, but it was too cluttered for her to do so.
The driver did ultimately take my mother to the salon, in what she described as “A very unpleasant experience.” After he told her she made him late, she paid him extra. She was so upset that she canceled the return trip and someone from the salon gave her a ride home.
I sympathize if that driver has a bad back; however, if you advertise that you provide a service to the elderly and disabled, perhaps such a driver is not best suited for the job?
After reading their letter this week I called the RoundTowner, and when I suggested perhaps they should not represent themselves as a service for the elderly or disabled, I was told, “I think that’s fair. The reality is you get who you get. They don’t need to be nasty or grumpy but they can’t do everything.”
They offered to let my mother try again, but she has declined. Hopefully, others will be better served.
San Juan Island