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Woman nearly runs out of oxygen after waiting hours for GRTC Care Van

RICHMOND, Va. -- Joanne Courtot relies on the GRTC CARE Van to get her to appointments when needed. She has several medical conditions and is wheelchair bound.

On Tuesday, she had a 9:30 appointment at Resources for Independent Living in Richmond. However, she told CBS 6 News the van was late that morning.

“They didn’t come get me for quite a long time,” said Courtot. “They came finally at quarter of 10:00.”

Joanne arrived to her appointment late and said a bus came around ten minutes later to take her home already.

Joanne Courtot

Joanne Courtot

Since she wasn’t able to take that bus, she had to reschedule for another bus.

However, that bus was late too, by several hours.

“It was getting frustrating and I was getting to be in a lot of pain,” she said.

Courtot is a critical care patient and after waiting outside for several hours, she was beginning to run out of oxygen.

“I had maybe a half hour,” she said with tears in her eyes. “It was frightening.”

Courtot said she feared for her life. People who witnessed what happened actually reached out to CBS 6 Problem Solvers to investigate.

So, we took their concerns to GRTC.

grtc-care-van

“Is this acceptable?” asked CBS 6 Reporter Chelsea Rarrick.

“Absolutely not,” said GRTC Spokeswoman Carrie Rose Pace. “The safety of our riders no matter if they are on the CARE transit or an express bus, or a fixed route bus, we want to make sure our customers feel safe and are safe and get to and from their destination in a timely manner.”

GRTC contracts out the CARE Van service. Rose Pace said they’ve been experiencing challenges after losing about a seventh of their driver workforce, which is causing the delays.

“We had an unexpected need to fill a large number of holes for drivers,” said Rose Pace.

Rose Pace said they are recruiting new drivers and had six new ones on the road Wednesday.

joanne-courtot-2

Joanne said she ended up getting a different ride home Tuesday, thanks to the people at Resources of Independent Living, but said she’s disappointed with how the situation was handled, given her medical needs.

“They were totally unconcerned,” she said. “To leave me that long… that was a long day for me.”

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