Oxygen equipment delivery delayed for 79-year-old, others who depend on it

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COMMERCE CITY, Colo. -- Some home oxygen equipment is getting delivered late to those who need it -- sometimes later than 11 p.m.

Paul Reimer recently received a replacement oxygen concentrator from Apria Healthcare at 10:30 p.m.

"I don’t think that’s business hours," Reimer said.

His concentrator stopped working that morning.

He repeatedly called Apria and said he struggled to get past the phone menu and ask a customer service representative for a replacement.

"So, I called different numbers a half a dozen times," Reimer said.

The 79-year-old has had seven heart attacks and depends on the oxygen.

"With heart attacks and everything else and health, I get frustrated pretty easily," Reimer said. "It’s just part of the game, I guess."

Reimer isn't the only one who has dealt with this problem recently.

Video of an oxygen delivery from Apria Healthcare to one family shows it occurred at 11:09 p.m.

Without investigating individual cases, Apria couldn't say for sure why these two deliveries happened so late at night.

But all home health care companies sometimes have delayed deliveries. One reason, they say, is because doctors and hospitals aren't filling out prescription forms correctly and quickly.

In 2016, 46.3 percent of all durable medical equipment orders were incomplete because of insufficient documentation, according to the the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Apria and other companies are pushing for electronic prescriptions that would be faster to fill out and reduce errors.

Plus, home health care companies are often getting paid less.

"The home health care industry has absorbed Medicare price cuts of more than 50 percent on over the past four to five years and is now facing similar cuts by Colorado Medicaid," Apria said in a statement.

"These cuts have required us to make significant adjustments to the way we do business, but we continue to make every effort to achieve our key goal which is improving the quality of life for our patients at home."

As for Reimer, he's back to breathing easier these days.

"I think the Lord is keeping me alive," Reimer said. "I believe that I have a mission that hasn’t been fulfilled."

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