Local patients left in the lurch after medical supplier closes

Vanguard Medical's closure left hundreds looking for a new supplier.

EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) – An unexpected acquisition involving two Rhode Island medical supply companies has left hundreds of patients waiting for vital deliveries and in some cases scrambling for new vendors, Target 12 has learned.

Kyle Maloney, a 26-year-old cerebral palsy patient who’s confined to a wheelchair, is one of those patients. His mother Kim Early, his primary caregiver, said her son depends on a specific type of formula and needs it delivered.

“He gets violently ill with other formulas,” Early said. “He can’t eat regular food. It goes into his lungs.”

For almost a decade, Maloney’s food and other supplies were delivered by Warwick based Vanguard Home Medical. But last week, when Early tried to make her son’s monthly order for him, she found out that company had merged with another vendor in a deal that closed in late August.

“I was told that someone would be getting back in touch with me,” Early said. “I haven’t heard from them. Now, I’m trying to find another company that can deliver this type of food and take our medical coverage.”

It turns out, national medical supply company Lincare, which has an office in East Providence, acquired Vanguard. Early said she was never notified about the change. No one from Lincare would comment about the issue, but one person who asked not to be identified, said the company’s employees are working very hard to fill their new customers’ orders.

Early had waited long enough, and by Friday, after about a dozen phone calls to various vendors, she finally found one that would deliver her son’s supplies.

“They’re out of Ohio,” Early said, pointing out there were no local or even regional suppliers who had what her son needs.

She was relieved but still frustrated by a lack of notice about the change from a company her son had depended on for almost a decade.

“If they had given me a heads up, I could’ve had more time to find another supplier,” Early said. “I’m sure I’m not the only one going through this. The lines [at Lincare] have been busy or people just didn’t call me back.”

Target 12 also reached out to Lincare’s corporate office but we have yet to receive a response.

Send tips to Target 12 Investigator Walt Buteau at wbuteau@wpri.com and follow him on Twitter @wbuteau

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