Tuscaloosa ambulance service curtails wheelchair transport service

Published: Dec. 22, 2021 at 9:02 PM CST
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala, (WBRC) - Growing concerns in Tuscaloosa over a non-emergency medical transport service.

A WBRC viewer emailed us anonymously and alleged that North Star Medical Services has stopped providing transportation for those who need kidney dialysis treatment.

North Star officials say part of that email is absolutely correct, but it’s not the entire story.

Before the pandemic, North Star Emergency Medical Services ran 5 routes a day throughout Tuscaloosa with its wheelchair transport, but not anymore - at least not for now.

Brent Dierking tells WBRC they are now running three routes a day, and there’s another factor contributing to the cutback.

“We’ve had people leave employment here because they didn’t want to predispose themselves and we are actively working to hire qualified wheelchair van drivers,” said Dierking, who is the director of North Star.

And with those limitations, notices went out a week ago.

“We wanted to do the right thing and that is we sent notices.. so we gave them a notice,” said Dierking.

And that part of the notification, according to Dierking, recommended other agencies who can fill the gap.

“There are three specific agencies in the Tuscaloosa market we referred them to,” he said.

On the wheelchair side of the business, North Star is only down two employees, but one of them will be out on medical leave for a few weeks.

Dierking says North Star sent notices to around 10 customers letting them know about the reduced services, but believes in time the wheelchair transport service will bounce back.

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