Youngstown man with COPD worried after oxygen deliveries stop


His oxygen tanks aren't being delivered during the COVID-19 pandemic but leaving his home to pick them up makes him nervous

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – The coronavirus pandemic has caused a lot of changes in our normal day-to-day lives. For one Youngstown man, he’s worried these changes could have life or death consequences.

Tim Gremmels is concerned about no longer having his oxygen delivered and what it could mean for others.

“If I get it, I’ll probably die and that’s just the way it is,” he said of COVID-19. “I have to accept it and move on with what I have to work with.”

Gremmels has been living with COPD — chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — for four years.

His reduced air flow makes it hard for him to breathe. It also makes him high-risk for coronavirus complications.

“I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe they’d make me come out and get it,” Gremmels said.

Lincare, the company that has been supplying his life-sustaining oxygen tanks for over a year, has temporarily stopped delivering. He is now picking it up from Lincare’s location on South Avenue in Boardman.

“They told me on the phone, ‘We cannot deliver to you. If it’s not an emergency, we can’t come to your house.’ And I said, ‘Excuse me?'”

Gremmels said he’s never had to leave his home to get the oxygen and being high-risk, he’s even more concerned.

“I can get a cheeseburger ordered and delivered to me from McDonald’s and they don’t even deliver. But this company that’s set up to deliver life-saving medicine and equipment to people won’t deliver because of the coronavirus. That doesn’t seem right to me.”

Gremmels said he wanted to share his story in the hopes that others can still get their life-sustaining equipment or medicine without putting themselves at risk.

“I’m not really mad at Lincare. I’m disappointed in them because they’ve been supplying me good service for over a year now but when the rubber meets the road, they just didn’t come through for us.”

We reached out to Lincare, which said they’re still committed to their patients:

“We have enhanced our processes to follow all CDC guidance and precautions and to be mindful of any local stay-at-home orders, including the expanded order under Governor DeWine. Lincare is committed to providing our continued quality of care safely to our 1.6 million patients across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The steps we have taken are meant to ensure as minimal contact as possible with our patients. Just some of the measures Lincare has implemented include prohibiting visitors at our local centers without appointment, curbside deliveries/pickups of equipment at patient homes, relaxed requirements for signatures based on government allowances and virtual setups without the need for in-person interaction.

We reach out to our patients to discuss their situations so that we can provide service in the best way for their needs while following all social distancing and government guidelines.

Specifically, we ask if they have traveled to a high-risk area or been exposed to anyone who is confirmed or suspected with COVID-19.

Lincare previously released a public statement that affirms our commitment, services and partnership during COVID-19.

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