PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Thousands of disabled people depend on Paratransit to get around. But a West Philadelphia woman, who was eligible for the service, was left desperate. She turned to 3 On Your Side for help.
Medical Reporter Stephanie Stahl found out why the wheels stopped, and got them rolling again.READ MORE: Pennsylvania US Senate Race Between Republicans Mehmet Oz, Dave McCormick Too Close To Call
Every breath is a struggle for 61-year-old Cheryl Lopes. She has pulmonary fibrosis, and depends on oxygen 24 hours a day, and a wheelchair to get around.
“My lungs are hardening up, and sadly to say it’s progressing downward pretty fast. Sometimes I actually ask God to just let me go because it’s an awful way to ya know to die, when you can’t breathe,” said Cheryl.
In early September, she was denied Paratransit services, SEPTA’s program for the disabled who can’t take regular public transportation, that she used mainly to get to doctors appointments.
SEPTA gave a variety of reasons, including:
“They told me that I should be able to catch the regular bus,” said Cheryl.
Here’s what that would be like for Cheryl. She has to cross Lindbergh Boulevard to get to the bus stop. It’s clearly dangerous.
“I’m really in a bind,” said Cheryl.
Her cousin Marilyn Mordecai helps take care of her, and was frustrated with the run-around they were getting from SEPTA.
She asked us for help.
SEPTA’s Jim Foley told me the denials were also based in part on what he calls inaccurate information Cheryl put on her application.
Stephanie asked, “So you’re blaming her?”READ MORE: John Fetterman Wins Democratic Pennsylvania Primary For Senate, AP Projects
Jim said, “No, we’re not blaming her. I’m just pointing out that ya know we SEPTA can only, we can only do as much as we know.”
Cheryl says the application was correct, and figured letters from her doctor explaining her deteriorating condition and need for Paratransit services would resolve any outstanding issues.
SEPTA says it never received any letters from her doctor.
Stephanie asked Jim, “She’s under the impression you had the doctors note. Did that get lost?”
Jim replied, “I’m not exactly sure what she sent us, what she thinks she sent us. What I know is what we had. We did not have the doctors note.”
“They always say we don’t know. We don’t have the letter. My doctor has sent three letters,” said Cheryl.
Simple solution, we got a copy of the doctors letter to SEPTA.
Two days later, Cheryl was approved for Paratransit services.
“I’m happy for Channel 3. And thank you so much for your help,” said Cheryl.
SEPTA says Paratransit provides about 8,000 thousand rides a day.
There are strict guidelines, and people applying for rides are advised to be very careful and detailed about getting all the paperwork in order.
Now on Paratransit, Cheryl says she’s able to get to places like the doctors and to church.MORE NEWS: Phillies Return Home After Road Trip With 3-0 Loss To Padres
Reported By: Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3