Gainesville transportation service faces emotional and financial impact during pandemic
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Manager of White Glove Medical Transport, Elizabeth McGinty, recalled their first time transporting a COVID-19 patient from North Florida Regional Medical Center to a hospice facility
“It was very emotional,” McGinty said. “We came, sanitized and the family gave us a hug and said they were very thankful for what we did because they wouldn’t have been able to say goodbye.”
Prior to the pandemic, White Glove Medical would mostly transport hospice patients, dialysis patients and took residents to doctors appointments. Now, with only 14 drivers, they’ve transported around 2,500 COVID patients.
McGinty said White Glove Medical was one of the first non-emergency transportation services to take COVID-19 patients and remains one of the few still open.
“We were legally the first transport company here in Gainesville that would even attempt a COVID patient,” McGinty said.
Driver, Michelle Horton, said a few patients have died with COVID-19 right there in her van.
“It really pulls on your heart and you have to take a few minutes or sometimes a few hours to get yourself back together,” Horton said. “Because like I said, that is someone’s family.”
While the pandemic has seen an emotional impact on White Glove Medical, the outbreak has also caused a great financial impact on the transportation service.
Owner, Alexis Hernandez, explained that in times like this it can be hard collecting payments.
“We’re getting a lot of excuses from facilities that we can’t get payments because of the crisis,” Hernandez said. “As a small company that’s hurting us.”
Hernandez’s father died due to COVID-19 complications, so seeing how hard his drivers work means a lot to him.
“Seeing them and how open they are to transporting these people and getting families together and making sure everybody is getting the attention it has been on a personal note for me,” Hernandez said.
The drivers expressed how truly fulfilling it is to be able to touch lives.
“Cause with COVID some of the family members haven’t seen their loved ones three four months and when we transport them they get to see them,” Horton added.
They live up to their motto, “Getting you there with care.”
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