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RI HEALTH

Patient dies after crash involving medical transportation company; R.I. cites ‘illegal’ activity, policy violations

The state medical transportation company, MTM, has a checkered history in the state. “Every and all options are on the table to hold MTM accountable – this cannot happen again,” the governor said

A patient being transported home by a state medical transportation subcontractor died after a crash, and the state is citing “illegal activity and policy violations” in the incident.

The crash happened on Nov. 27. Governor Dan McKee’s office said it involved Assured Transportation, a sub-contractor of Medical Transportation Management, Inc., which arranges non-emergency medical transportation. MTM has a checkered history in the state.

Few details about the crash have been publicly revealed, but McKee in a news release said that “what happened is horrific and inexcusable.”

“Our most vulnerable neighbors, seniors and loved ones rely on this critical transportation service and we need to make sure we have a provider who provides high quality services to our patients,” McKee said. “My prayers go out to the victim’s family. Every and all options are on the table to hold MTM accountable – this cannot happen again.”

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MTM’s vice president of public affairs, Phil Stalboerger, said in a statement that it terminated its contract with the company that was transporting the patient on learning the details of the crash.

“MTM expresses its deepest condolences to the passenger’s family,” Stalboerger said.

McKee’s office said the matter was referred Saturday to the state attorney general and state police. MTM has been the subject of oversight scrutiny in the past, and in 2019 had to pay a $1 million fine and faced other monetary sanctions. The governor’s office did not say where the crash took place.

The state was notified about the crash on Nov. 30, says after it happened, through a routine incident review, McKee’s office said. The state was notified on Friday night that the patient had died at a hospital. That’s also when the state “learned about illegal activity and policy violations that also occurred related to the accident,” McKee’s office said. The governor’s office did not elaborate on what the illegal activity and policy violations were.

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Patients eligible for rides through MTM include Medicaid patients with no other way of getting to their appointments and elderly people. The person who died was on their way home from a dialsysis appointment.

State Rep. Pat Serpa, a West Warwick Democrat, said in a Twitter post in reaction to the news: “This is an egregious failure on the part of MTM. They need to go—fast, quick & in a hurry. I’ve been saying it for two years. Time to cut ties. Period.”

State Health and Human Services Secretary Womazetta Jones, at McKee’s request, will review contractual options with MTM, which could include damages, a corrective action plan, or termination. It will also require MTM to do a full audit of its subcontractors within a week.

“This is a tragedy,” Jones said. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victim’s family. This never should have happened. We are taking swift action. We are looking at every one of our options to ensure the protection of Rhode Islanders.”


Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @bamaral44.