8 On Your Side

Medicaid transportation problems plague Pasco cancer patient

NEW PORT RICHEY, Fla. (WFLA) - Transportation troubles and wait times continue to plague a cancer patient looking for Medicaid rides to her doctors.

Johanna Spaninato, 81, of New Port Richey just wants to get to her cancer treatments on time and get home without a long delay.

Tuesday evening outside Moffitt Cancer Center in Hillsborough County, Johanna and her son Michael Nicholas waited, they claim, for more than an hour for a cab to arrive.

"I'm just disgusted," Johanna said. "You just sit outside in the weather and wait."

"That's totally unacceptable," Michael stated. "She's already done her cancer treatment, and she's sick, fatigued. She's ready to go home and lay down and sometimes vomit."

Johanna calls a company called LogistiCare to schedule her rides.  

LogistiCare books rides through a network of nearly 300 transportation providers in Florida.

It claims a state contract allows transportation providers an hour to arrive.

"To them it's acceptable," Johanna said. 

In October, 8 On Your Side first began reporting problems with cancer patients enduring lengthy delays for LogistCare-booked rides to show.  

"It's getting worse. They don't care," Kim Faulkner, a manager at the Pinellas Cancer Center explained.

Kim says it breaks her heart watching patients sit and wait for a ride home.

"They're very sick," she said. 

Pinellas State Senator Jeff Brandes, (R)-St. Petersburg, calls these issues unacceptable.

"If Florida can put a man on the moon, it should be able to pick people up to get to their doctor appointments," Sen. Brandes pointed out.

Johanna felt like sending the driver of a cab to the moon this week when she claimed he insisted on dropping her off at Moffitt's "red" entrance, instead of the "gold" on the other side of the facility.

"It's quite a distance, it's not around the corner. It's quite a distance away," Johanna said.

Johanna has no right knee and uses a walker to help her get around.

She claims the driver became very rude when she insisted she be dropped off at the proper entrance. 

"I'm telling him from the back seat, 'you got to go to gold,' Mike's sitting next to him in the front seat, 'hey man, where are you going? You've got to go over there to the gold section,'"Johanna said.

According to Johanna and Mike the driver responded, "Never mind, you get the hell out." 

Both Mike and Johanna say Moffitt stepped in and told the driver to drop them off at the proper entrance.  

LogistiCare claims since October it has tried to contact Johanna, but she disconnects the calls from its representatives.  

It states when it contacts her son, he directs the company's calls to the media and also disconnects the calls.  

The company states it would welcome the opportunity to work directly with Johanna on a resolution.

If you know of something that should be investigated call our 8 On Your Side Helpline at 1-800-338-0808. Contact Steve Andrews at sandrews@wfla.com.

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