5 on Your Side: Obstacles for man who needs wheelchair

GRANITE CITY, Ill. (KSDK) - A Granite City, Ill. man desperately needed a new wheelchair. He went through the proper channels, but encountered obstacles and delays. Months in, and still no chair, he contacted 5 on Your Side's Mike Rush.

For Chris Richey, a wheelchair offers more than mobility, it gives him independence. He's describes what it would be like without it.

"I'm stranded, I can't get to work, I can't get out of the house," said Richey. "I mean that's my lifeline."

Chris was born with spina bifida. The 28-year old has relied on a wheelchair to get around for about 12 years. When it was clear his current chair was worn out, Chris contacted United Seating and Mobility in Earth City to get a new one.

"They measured the wheelchair, but due to the fact that I have work insurance, I had to get a doctor's approval," said Richey. "And because I had Medicare, I had to get a physical therapist's approval."

What started as a simple process quickly became a headache.

"They said they couldn't get the physical therapist's approval, even though that was faxed at least six different times," said Richey.

United Seating and Mobility was merging with another company, and Chris says after they finally got the documentation they had requested, matters took another turn.

"They somehow acted like they didn't have my records, they didn't know who I was," said Richey.

Seven months in, with the wheels on his chair are thread bare and falling off on a regular basis, and with no foot rest, Chris contacted 5 on Your Side.

"I'm hoping by doing this with channel 5 that the wheelchair company can see that I need a wheelchair," said Richey. "And it shouldn't take this long and shouldn't be this hard to help someone get a wheelchair."

The company Chris ordered his wheelchair from is now NuMotion, a much larger company, with offices in 41 states, including the one in Earth City. 5 on Your Side contacted the company on Chris' behalf.

After two weeks of phone calls back and forth, we learned Chris' new wheelchair was not only ordered, but had been sitting in the office ready to be picked up. NuMotion representatives declined our request for an interview, but sent us a statement offering to provide a loaner wheelchair while they work together through the documentation process. The statement goes on to say the company hopes and expects a resolution soon.

The very next day the company delivered not a loaner, but the new wheelchair Chris had been waiting for.

"Once channel 5 got involved, that's when the wheelchair company finally started to work with me," said Richey. "I feel ecstatic, I feel happy, the only bad part is it should have never taken this long."

Chris' wheelchair was about $2,500. Insurance picked up a big portion of that, but there's still about $500 to be paid. If a secondary insurance doesn't cover it, the company is offering to let Chris pay it out a month at a time.


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