Florida woman with disabilities stuck in yearslong battle with wheelchair company
Medicare paid $23,000; woman says chair has flaws
A Central Florida woman with disabilities says a company that was supposed to help her is actually hurting her.
The company was hired to build her a new wheelchair but she says more than two years later, she is still waiting for a chair that fits her properly.
Randa Knepp has been in a wheelchair her entire life. She has owned more than 20 of them but said her latest experience has left her furious and without the chair she desperately needs.
Knepp was diagnosed with muscular dystrophy at 6 months old. Over time, the disease causes every muscle in your body to weaken and deteriorate.
“Every muscle -- heart, lungs -- everything just gradually weakens until it just doesn’t work anymore,” she said.
She has enough mobility in her hands to operate the mouse for her computer and the control for her wheelchair.
“I can’t brush my own teeth. I can’t feed myself. I can’t do any hygiene care. I rely on everybody to do everything,” Knepp said.
She’s currently using her old wheelchair.
In April of 2017, Knepp says she ordered a new chair from Sego's Home Medical Equipment in Titusville.
Medicare and her insurance paid more than $23,000 for the chair, according to Knepp.
She said it was custom made but it was never right for her.
She said she knew right away that it wasn’t the right fit.
"The minute they brought it and they put me in it,” she said.
Knepp said the arms weren’t right. The headrest wasn’t right and there was no footrest and no harness to keep her in it. Without a proper headrest and harness, the slightest bump can leave Knepp helpless.
She said if her head shifts too far forward, she doesn’t have the strength to lift it up.
“If I’m not sitting properly, it’s hard for me to take breaths,” she said.
Knepp said the proper chair could mean the difference between life and death.
In the meantime, she has been making do with her old chair, which is just that: old.
When it broke recently, she said she lived in a recliner in her living room for two days while it was being fixed.
“I did not eat for two days because I could not swallow because I have to balance my head,” Knepp said.
Knepp said Sego reps came out a couple times to make adjustments.
The company currently has the chair as they wait for new parts to come in, according to the owner.
Knepp said the situation has been going on more than two years, which she believes is too long.
“They sold me the chair, got their money from Medicare and that’s it,” she said. “A person that is dependent on wheelchairs or medical equipment, they shouldn’t have to fight for them.”
News 6 spoke with Gene Sego, the owner of Sego’s Home Medical Equipment, on multiple occasions.
At one point, Sego offered to fix the custom chair and pay for a brand new one, but when Knepp asked him to do an on-camera interview stating his intentions and asked him to put it in writing, he would not.
Sego said his goal is to make all of his customers happy, but Knepp said she is far from that.
Medicare will pay for a new chair every five years. According to Knepp, Medicare would pay for a new one now if Sego would take back the chair his company made. Sego said he is not willing to do that.
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