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Operation PAVE: Providing Vocational and Employment Help for Our Heroes

Paving Access for Veterans Employment (PAVE)

The theme of Operation PAVE is “Changing Lives, Building Futures One Veteran at a Time”. It is a unique public-private partnership with Paralyzed Veterans of America and the private sector to find meaningful employment for wounded veterans.

PAVE provides one-on-one vocational assistance and support to all veterans and their families, as well as assistance to employers committed to hiring veterans. Working with government and business leaders throughout the country, PAVE counselors work with rehabilitation teams to help newly injured veterans get back into society.

Operation PAVE Video

Partners for Life

Professional PAVE counselors engage many of their clients for the first time at the hospital bedside – long before they are thinking about economic self-sufficiency and finding employment. Working from offices in the VA Medical Centers, the counselors become involved with every detail of the veteran’s progression — from the time they return home to long after they have finished rehab and left the hospital. They often use the term “partners for life”. Counselors find the injured veterans jobs, internships, volunteer positions and training opportunities. They also help veterans to understand and apply for all of the benefits they are entitled to through the Veterans Administration.

Those of us at MobilityWorks who serve our veterans with mobility consultations and equipment installation are truly blessed to meet these wonderful individuals who risked their lives for our freedom. Visit our Veterans Assistance page for additional information about adaptive equipment grants and contact information for local VA offices.

For Employers

If you have any information about vocational training, internships or job openings for veterans who may have some physical or mental challenges as a result of their service, please call Operation PAVE at 1-800-424-8200 or write to Joan Haskins at joanh@pva.org. Operation PAVE is funded entirely through private donations and provided free of charge to veterans and employers.

Visit Operation PAVE

MobilityWorks Now Serving Central and Northern California with Nor-Cal Mobility

Sacramento, San Francisco, Fresno and Chico added to locations
The addition of Nor-Cal’s four locations brings the total number of MobilityWorks California showrooms to seven. Our Van Nuys and Pasadena locations serve the Los Angeles County, Ventura County and Orange County areas to the south.

It was less than a year ago that we were announcing our expansion into southeastern states with the merger of HDS Vans and MobilityWorks. This past week we made another big announcement with the acquisition of Nor-Cal Mobility in the state of California.

Nor-Cal has four locations, including: Burlingame; Chico; Fresno; and Sacramento. Burlingame is only minutes away from the San Francisco International airport, Chico is in northern California, Fresno is in the central area of the state, and Sacramento is northeast of Oakland. All four will complement our existing Santa Clara showroom and rental center in the south bay area near San Jose.

We are very excited about the prospects of serving clients in these new areas and with welcoming the Nor-Cal Mobility Staff to our expanding family. This growth is evidence of MobilityWorks’ commitment to provide the disabled community with quality products and solutions.

“The success of the company is due to hiring good people that can help our clients with making the right decision” said Bill Koeblitz, MobilityWorks President/CEO.

“In our business, you have to take a special interest in really getting to know people on a very personal level,” added Mr. Koeblitz. “We’re always concerned with matching the vehicle or lift to their personal travel needs.” All of the MobilityWorks locations feature new and used wheelchair vans for sale, representing BraunAbility and VMI minivan conversions. Consumer and commercial van customers can also get NMEDA QAP certified repair and maintenance service with a 24/7 emergency helpline. If any current Nor-Cal Mobility clients have a specific concern or situation they would like to discuss with our executive team, please contact us at ask@mobilityworks.com.

MobilityWorks & Nor-Cal Mobility Showrooms

Chico
1300 Nord Ave.
Chico, CA 95926

Fresno
120 N. Diamond Street,
Fresno, CA 93701

Pasadena
325 N. Altadena Drive
Pasadena CA 91107

Sacramento
3127 Fite Circle, Suite B
Sacramento, CA 95827

San Francisco
890 Cowan Road, Suite B
Burlingame, CA 94010

San Jose
1245 Laurelwood Rd.
Santa Clara, CA 95054

Van Nuys
7720 Sepulveda Blvd
Van Nuys, CA 91405-1018

NOTE: Nor-Cal Vans, a sister company that converts full-size vans for commercial use, is not part of the acquisition. The conversion van company will continue to be operated by owner/operator Ken Karasinski.

MobilityWorks of Atlanta Becomes Donation Site for Friends of Disabled Adults and Children

Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) is a non-profit organization providing over $10 million annually in refurbished home medical equipment and supplies to the disabled community. They recently announced a partnership with local beverage distributor Eagle Rock Distributing Company to utilize Eagle Rock’s delivery trucks to pick up and deliver donated items.

Donated equipment is a key part of the FODAC program to help improve the quality of life for thousands of individuals. FODAC is a statewide and national provider of home health care equipment — mobility aids and daily living devices for people with disabilities and the newly injured. The donations include wheelchairs, walkers and other used home medical equipment that people need to be mobile and independent.

“The opportunity to utilize our location in helping FODAC is great,” said David Guillory, General Manager at the MobilityWorks of Atlanta store. “Having wheelchairs and other used medical equipment being dropped off here helps the community and brings more awareness to accessibility issues. We’re happy to be helping their mission.”

Atlanta Georgia MobilityWorks is a drop off location for FODAC
Workers load home medical equipment donations destined for FODAC and those in need of mobility equipment. Photo courtesy of Lizbeth Dison.

Eagle Rock drivers working the route between the company’s Dalton office and the Stone Mountain office will stop at MobilityWorks (located in Marietta, GA) and pick up donations to deliver to FODAC’s warehouse in Stone Mountain. Their truck routes cover the entire Atlanta metro area and will often have partial loads.

“We are pleased to partner with Eagle Rock to support the companies, like Mobility Works, who have offered to be donation sites for used HME,” stated Chris Brand, president of FODAC. “We hope that the success of this program will inspire other companies to offer their truck routes so that we can extend the reach of our donation sites.”

Editor’s note: This story originated from the Stone Mountain-Lithonia Patch, written by Lizbeth Dison. Used with permission.

Grey’s Anatomy Conveys Public Service Announcement for the Amputee Coalition

Kudos to Grey’s Anatomy in providing a recent public service announcement for the Amputee Coalition and for bringing awareness to the rehabilitation process that amputee’s experience. The emotions, courage and eventual triumph that Doctor Arizona Robbins depicted in her recovery was an inspirational message to their more than 11 million regular viewers.

In this year’s story line of the award winning drama series, Doctor Robbins returns after having been in a plane crash with several other doctors. Robbins loses her leg in the crash and then struggles emotionally with her loss. After a season-long journey of recovery, including being fitted with a prosthesis and physical therapy staff, Robbins makes her way back to performing  surgery (now with a prosthetic leg). In writing and filming the series, the writers went to the Amputee Coalition for advice in making the script as realistic as possible. 

Grey's Anatomy star provides a public service announcement
Shown above is actress Jessica Capshaw (Doctor Arizona Robbins) providing a public service announcement on limb loss and the Amputee Coalition.

“This is the first time on national television that viewers will be shown the arduous journey following amputation,” said Kendra Calhoun, President & CEO of the Amputee Coalition.  According the coalition website, they worked with Grey’s Anatomy to provide insight into limb loss and the journey to recovery and readjustment. Now in its 9th season, the popular ABC drama has been nominated for 25 prime time Emmy awards.

Part of the Amputee Coalition’s mission is to promote limb loss prevention. To learn more about the organization and how you can help, visit //amputee-coalition.org and the Limb Loss Center for more information.

Worker’s Compensation Claims Requiring a Mobility Vehicle

This article was originally written  for the summer issue of the Georgia State Bar Workers Compensation Law newsletter by Michael Dresdner, MobilityWorks Director of Customer Care

When I first entered the field of accessible transportation in 1990 consumers as well as payers had few choices as to what was provided to a claimant. Additionally, there was little adherence to safety standards and mobility equipment dealers were literally praised for forging raw steel into useful transportation solutions and alternatives. Very few “manufactured devices” were available and if instructions were provided they contained phrases like “field modify as necessary”.

A great deal has changed in 22 years. There have been improvements in how products and solutions are provided. Most devices and conversions are now precision-manufactured by high quality companies. Much has been accomplished and changed for the better, but there is still work to do. In many cases the knowledge of these changes and how to leverage that knowledge to insure the best outcome for the claimant has not kept pace. Many rehabilitation professionals in the field of workers’ compensation infrequently work through the details of providing mobility vehicles or mobility equipment and therefore never become “experts”.

Unlike the way mobility equipment dealers operated in 1990, we are now typically a well run enterprise resembling an auto dealership, stocking vehicles as well as equipment that can be readied in days versus months. Clean, fully accessible facilities are now the norm. In today’s world vehicles as well as equipment and the installation of the equipment must meet multiple federal standards. Mobility equipment dealerships mandate that employees receive ongoing training and certification in their unique fields of expertise.  Vehicles now have advanced electrical systems that require significant skill to troubleshoot and repair. Where we were once praised by payers and consumers for the rudimentary devices we cobbled together, both now have serious expectations of mobility equipment dealers and mobility vehicles in general. In many cases all parties hold us accountable to the highest standards of quality, safety and functionality. Unfortunately, in some cases, expectations are not clearly outlined or properly communicated and less than ideal outcomes occur.

The process of providing a transportation alternative to a person with a disability has become a complex task. When you merge the complexity of our products and services with the “unique cocktail” that is the workers’ compensation system, sometimes the outcomes do not make sense. These mixed outcomes are what motivated me to write this article. The pressures from the workers’ compensation system often force the sourcing of product through odd channels, and the end result befuddles everyone involved! It is not uncommon for three or more different parties to request a quote from a mobility equipment dealer and the party that makes the purchase is often influenced by factors that do not prioritize the claimant and keenly focus on his or her needs. For example, a request for a quote could potentially come from an insurer, a re-insurer and a managed care provider and sometimes from a local case manager or possibly an outside “consultant” — or any combination of the five! This chaotic mix rarely yields the best outcome and it may not end up being cost effective. Controls are often sacrificed due to the multiple parties involved with their differing agendas.

Equipping a car or van for someone with a disability is unique to that individual’s disability, lifestyle, and personal mobility device (wheelchair or scooter). The vehicle modification can yield positive outcomes, but there can be outcomes that just do not work or worse can cause physical problems for the user. One scenario that repeats itself often with seasoned claimants (those seeking a replacement vehicle) as they age is that the claimants mistakenly believe that they have good transfer skills and that they are not at risk for shoulder issues. They are often reluctant to let go of transferring to an automotive seat versus driving from the wheelchair. Someone has to say, “no” and clearly explain the risks. Many times, I have found myself as the one who seriously raises this issue.

The best way to avoid problems is to follow a plan, not unlike the claimant’s plan for rehabilitation.

Driver Evaluation, Fitting and Training

Regardless of whether the claimant is a passenger or will be an independent driver, be certain that he/she is evaluated by a CDRS (Certified Driver Rehabilitation Specialist). The CDRS recognizes disabilities, has an awareness of the available adaptive equipment and knows the implications each has on driving or being transported. These professionals are certified by the Association of Driver Rehabilitation Specialists. If you are not familiar with those that serve your area, find a CDRS at www.aded.net. Here in the Atlanta area we have two programs that employ CDRS’s as well as Occupational Therapists: the Shepherd Center Assistive Technology Program and Freedom and Mobility, a private firm. Both programs often travel to see a client. Your investment in a driver or passenger evaluation will definitely pay off. Without an evaluation you will not have a specific set of specifications to use to request quotes. Once “apples and oranges” get mixed, the process can fail.

The need for evaluating a driver may seem obvious, but why evaluate a passenger? There are a number of problems that can arise when a disabled passenger is not evaluated. These can include safety issues, claimant fit, as well as weight issues. Designing a modification plan is varied and complex, even for a passenger.

In addition to the initial evaluation, the CDRS should meet with the claimant and the vendor at the time of the vehicle delivery to confirm the claimant’s ability to use the equipment, that the vehicle is delivered as promised and that all the equipment operates properly and safely. If the vehicle is to be driven independently, the CDRS would confirm the placement of all driving controls (fitting), work with the mobility equipment dealer to make final adjustments and then drive with the claimant. Additional training over an extended period of time could be required depending on the complexity of the equipment or the type and severity of the disability. It is recommended that a representative from the payer be present at the delivery of a

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