For almost a year, Ben sat in a Convaid wheelchair that was way too small for him. Medicaid requires that you keep equipment for at least three years before ordering new, but had we known about this caveat - if the child grows quickly and cannot use it safely, then a doctor's letter will help get the equipment ordered before the three years, we would have pursued it. Ben's former Convaid chair was a 14" chair and Ben's hips were 14". Clearly, he was too large. His feet touched the ground, and he could almost stand up with it.
The past salesman's family-run company was bought out by a large corporation with strict policies and goals. It is possible that this was the reason for the salesman's neglect - his former company was going under.
The new company has a 90 day turn around from initial evaluation to date of delivery. Since taking over the company in December, they have delivered twice to us staying within the 90 day window.
The other piece of equipment that Ben needed was a Rifton High-Low Activity Chair. This arrived a few weeks ago and I think it will change a lot of things for Ben - from eating in a proper seat to doing therapy in the correct position.
My Learning Curve:
1. Follow-up with medical supply salespeople. If you are not getting the response you need, ask the hard questions and make a change if needed. There are many companies out there that want your business. I was loyal to our salesman and in the end, it cost Ben's safety, comfort and progress.
2. Providing the right equipment can make a difference for your child and can help with more productive therapy sessions. Be sure to ask therapists what equipment would make things easier for learning and development. We should have had an activity chair for Ben for the past five or six years.
3. Insurance companies and Medicaid have rules so that people cannot take advantage of a situation, but if you think you have an extenuating circumstance, ask if that rule may be bent. Ben sat in a chair that was too small and unsafe for him. Medicaid would have approved a new chair on the basis of his growth.