THE PERFORMANCE of Metro Access, which transports Anne Arundel County's sick, disabled and elderly Medicaid patients to medical appointments, needs immediate attention. There are signs of trouble -- from bounced paychecks to patients stranded in Baltimore -- that the county health department doesn't seem to be aware of.
Now that the county has renewed this company's contract, the health department has an obligation to ensure that its terms -- particularly on-time provisions -- are closely followed. It would appear from employee and passenger complaints reported by The Sun's Laura Sullivan last week that the department is not getting its money's worth.
Metro Access claims that much of the derogatory information stemmed from "disgruntled" employees who are "not team players." Perhaps. But employees whose paychecks bounced have a legitimate beef. So do patients forced to miss appointments or who get stuck on malfunctioning hydraulic lifts.
County officials claim they have received only three complaints about the service since January. The problem may be that passengers aren't complaining to county officials. Employees say they have received hundreds of complaints -- none of which were forwarded to the county.
Rather than relying on the company or its employees, the health department should conduct a simple customer satisfaction survey of passengers.
The results of such a survey might have determined whether the county should have renewed its $720,000 annual contract. Although it may be too late to rescind the renewal, officials should demand improvements if widespread dissatisfaction exists.
Clearly, something isn't right. Contented employees don't walk off their jobs and openly complain about their employer. If Metro Access' workers are being mistreated, one can only imagine about the treatment of passengers -- many of whom are invalids, paralyzed or quite ill.
Pub Date: 6/16/98