Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: What to Look for in NEMT Vans
In order to maintain the quality of life that most seniors have grown accustomed to, senior living facilities are finding ways to keep residents active in the local community.
One of the biggest barriers to socialization and independence is having a means of transportation. Many people with disabilities cannot drive or utilize public transportation and rely on friends or family members to transport them.
Not being able to get to and from medical appointments, visiting family and friends, or even to the mall can have negative effects on a person’s mental and physical health. That’s why it’s so important for your facility or organization to invest in non-emergency medical transportation services.
Here’s what to look for in NEMT vans to build a fleet of vehicles that meet your patients’ needs.
What is NEMT?
Non-emergency medical transportation offers accessible transportation to people with disabilities in non-emergency situations.
Most NEMT programs offer the following transport services:
- Wheelchair vans or ambulettes
- Appointed-based pick-up and drop-off
- Door-to-door or bed-to-bed service
Keep in mind that not only is NEMT a great service to offer, it is considered a core Medicaid benefit in some states.
In an emergency, an ill or injured person will typically utilize ambulance services from a local hospital. But when they aren’t in an emergency, they may struggle to access medical care, social activities, human services, and more.
Bringing non-emergency transportation services to your facility means you can remove barriers and increase access for your residents.
Additionally, it can actually reduce care costs across the board. When people can access health appointments and other medical services on a regular basis, that can increase positive health outcomes, which can save the patient and health care providers additional money in the long run.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Equipment
There are professional transportation companies who will provide NEMT services for you. However, assembling your own commercial fleet of NEMT vehicles gives you greater control over vehicle and service quality, transportation costs, and wait times and allows you to offer premium patient care services that your competitors may not.
You have many equipment options, including…
- Ambulettes are the best choice for non-emergency medical uses, such as trips to offsite medical facilities. They are the same size as some ambulances but offer customized, flexible layouts.
- Wheelchair-accessible vans can also transport passengers who aren’t in wheelchairs.
- Van conversion options, including lowered-floor vans with ramps, allow you to convert a vehicle that your facility already owns.
Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Features
No matter what kind of vehicles you choose to start your fleet, you need to make sure that your vehicles have the following features to make them usable.
As a provider of NEMT services, you’ll need to make sure that your vehicles are compliant with ADA standards. That means that your vans must meet the following requirements:
- The vehicle must have either a lift or ramp.
- Wheelchair lifts must be at least 30” x 40”. Additionally, the lift must be interlocked with the vehicle’s gearshift to prevent the vehicle from moving when the lift is not stowed and to prevent the lift from operating when the vehicle is moving. There must also have mechanisms to prevent equipment failure (like falling) and for emergency operation if the lift fails. The lifts must also have handrails 30”-38” high.
- Wheelchair ramps must support at least 300 pounds with the least slope possible; the slope must range from 1:4 to 1:12 depending on height.
- The vehicle must have at least one securement attachment that secures wheelchairs or other mobility devices. Vehicles longer than 22 feet must have at least two attachments.
- Vehicles must have a door height of 56” to 58” depending on vehicle length.
- The floor of the vehicle, lifts, and ramps must be slip-resistant.
- Any stepwell or doorway must have interior lights; the vehicle doorways must have exterior lighting.
There are also features you can find in wheelchair-accessible vans that offer an even safer and more comfortable experience for your passengers.
We recommend including:
- Removable seats to allow for customized configuration of a vehicle depending on passenger needs.
- Transfer seating to assist passengers in entering the vehicle comfortably.
- A lowered floor and raised ceiling to provide more space for people in wheelchairs.
- GPS to help track the vehicle’s movements and provide updates on travel time.
All non-emergency transportation from United Access complies with ADA requirements, and in some cases, exceeds the requirements, so you and your patients can feel confident in the safety of your new fleet.
To build a full NEMT fleet that meets your organization’s every need, talk with a United Access Mobility Specialist to learn about all of your options.