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No Medicaid support for broken wheelchair repair leaves family struggling

Gregory and Andrea Washington
Posted at 11:03 PM, Feb 07, 2021

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — Gregory Washington relied on his electric wheelchair to get around the assisted living facility he lives in, until the joystick broke. Now, he struggles to support himself and to maneuver his loaner chair, which lacks much of what he needs.

"It really hurts, you know, hurts me to see him struggle and to suffer," said Andrea Washington, his mother.

His mother isn't able to stay overnight with him in the assisted living facility, and she worries about the 30-year-old's ability to manage with a chair that doesn't provide him with the same mobility he's used to. Gregory said the posture he's forced to hold in his new chair hurts him after the past month of using it.

Gregory isn't eligible for a new chair through Medicaid until he's had his chair for a total of five years, a milestone he won't hit for another 10 months, and Andrea said customer service isn't helping.

Repair companies said the fix for his other chair -- which still isn't truly sufficient and lacks the support Gregory needs to help him stay upright -- would run the family more than $600.

"No one has contacted me," she said. "I called several times, no response. We're pretty much in limbo. We're waiting and I'm at a loss as to how this is even happening right now, like, no one is listening."

Within an hour of this story airing on WCPO Sunday evening, several viewers called and emailed to offer support -- and repair costs -- for Gregory's chair. WCPO has been in touch with Andrea, who said she plans to talk things over with her family, but that, at the core of things she just hopes Medicaid will do the right thing first.

"I just want you to know I want it to be better and get fixed so he can have a wheelchair and enjoy his quality of life," said Andrea.

WCPO has reached out to Medicaid and local wheelchair repair facilities and have not yet received a response.