Article Title: Need to get to the hospital? Charlotte Medic says try Uber or Lyft instead of ambulance
Amid staffing shortages due to COVID-19, Mecklenburg County emergency officials are hoping more people will take advantage of a recently introduced partnership with ride-share companies to get to area hospitals.
The program, which allows low-risk patients to take a Lyft or Uber to the hospital rather than an ambulance is a “safe and appropriate” way to get care, Medic officials this week.
Here’s how it works.
HOW DOES MEDIC’S RIDESHARE PROGRAM WORK?
The ride-share program launched in the Charlotte area in October and serves patients who are considered low-risk, Medic Deputy Director Jon Studnek said at a Monday news conference.
Medic officials said previously that the program is part of a partnership with Circulation, a company that works with ride-share providers to bring ride-sharing services to the medical community.
The rideshares, via Lyft or Uber, are offered to certain patients who call 911 with low-risk issues, such as relatively minor injuries and “generalized illness,” who first speak with a “nurse advice line,” according to Studnek.
Some people who are offered a rideshare still prefer to take an ambulance, he added, but that can often lead to longer wait times for the patient. “You’ll likely get a Lyft or an Uber to take you to your destination much quicker than you would an ambulance,” he said.
There have been 109 successful Lyft trips since Oct. 1, Medic spokesman Lester Oliva said, and Studnek explained Medic would like to see that number increase.
“We’re offering (a rideshare) to you because the questions you have answered during telephone triage indicate that it is a very safe and appropriate method to transport you to a hospital,” he said.
Patients don’t need to have the Lyft or Uber app and can communicate with drivers via text message, Medic said in October. Studnek previously said using a rideshare service instead of an ambulance is also cost-saving, often the difference between a more than $1,000 charge and less than $20. And Medic covers the cost of the rideshare, Oliva confirmed.
MORE CHANGES TO MEDIC SERVICES
Medic said Monday it was extending its target response time for certain low-risk patients to 60 minutes or less, up from 30 minutes or less.
And Medic officials said this week Mecklenburg EMS has again requested federal assistance in the form of “ambulance strike teams” to help address staffing issues brought on by COVID-19.
The agency will also limit for 30 days the number of “non-emergency transports” it performs.
JMO (Just My Opinion): Uber and Lyft have both tried getting entering the medical transport space many times over the years. Every time the program gets pulled. From putting ambulances out of business, to untrained drivers in medical situations, to drivers not knowing they are getting these rides. Nothing but failure has ever come from this. If you are not familiar with the times in the past that the rideshare giants have tried doing this, it always ends while still in BETA testing mode. Once again in this article, they are stating that only some people will be advised by medical staff to use rideshare services. The problem is people start using these services without calling the hospital first, when they are available. This puts the driver in danger of getting sick, not being trained to handle any medical if needed, and uniformed that they are now ‘working UNTRAINED as medical staff’, and the list goes on and on. These companies NEED to stop trying this failure idea, over and over again, this is not a game Uber & Lyft!!!
*Original Article By Mary Ramsey & Jonathan Limehouse, Charlotte Observer*