Review of institutions dealt with on a trip to San Francisco
We visited the San Francisco area as a multipurpose vacation. Our oldest daughter was in a wedding across the Bay. She lives in Finland, and we don't see her too often. Also, only I had been to San Francisco before, and that as a teenager. Finally, we were going to meet a friend with whom I have previously only communicated at a distance. Whenever we travel, we find out how various organizations handle the needs of disabled people, and I usually report on the result.
State of Alabama
Because my injury was acquired while I was on state business, a lot of my care is paid for and handled by the state. Mostly I work with an RN at the State Employees Injury Compensation Trust Fund. My current case manager does a very good job; this has not always been true with some of her predecessors.
Accent Care, home health agency
One of the tasks handled by my case manager at the state involves finding a home health care agency in a city I visit. Typically, these agencies have to provide people to help me get up in the morning and go to bed at night. This is skilled work, but people who can do it are available in every major city and plenty of smaller cities. In this particular case, I needed 12 visits, and two individuals were assigned to the case. On two of the 12 occasions my caregiver did not show up. This is a failure rate of almost 20%, which would certainly not be acceptable in the long term. The management of Accent Care sent replacement caregivers for the subsequent days, and the three caregivers I actually worked with were all competent, friendly, and professional. I enjoy working with talkative people when they have something to say. I learned a lot about the Bay area, life as a Chinese immigrant, and many other things. So I would probably give the company a B- grade.
I have reviewed Delta Airlines in the past. Their quality of service is spotty at best. On this particular trip, we traveled on four different planes and visited three different airports. At the Birmingham Airport on the day of our departure of all of their computers were down. Employees were disgruntled, and audibly blamed the highly paid CEO of the company ($24 million/yr). I don't know whether this person is 100% responsible, but certainly the check-in personnel are not. I would say that a Delta Airlines is in trouble if they can't purchase 21st-century computer technology and keep their employees happy enough with their jobs to at least pretend to enjoy working for the company. So we missed a meal because we spent nearly an hour waiting for overtaxed equipment to finally cough up our boarding passes. My youngest daughter is thin and she gets hungry fast. So this is actually a serious problem for us.
We had no significant problems in Detroit or San Francisco. When we returned to Birmingham, we had to wait about 20 minutes for my wheelchair to be brought up from the cargo hold of the air plane. This might have been partly because we got off of the small plane relatively quickly.
Overall, I would give Delta a C+, for making us miss a meal because they were too cheap to upgrade their computer systems.
Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf (San Francisco)
This is a very expensive hotel, but not for the touristy part of San Francisco. We were somewhat limited, because we needed a place with a fully wheelchair accessible room. Funny thing is they gave us the wrong room. We did not realize right away, so when we did realize we had unpacked everything. This necessitated repacking everything in a hurry and a couple of things are still lost as a result. They gave us five vouchers to their breakfast buffet by way of apology. The buffet normally costs $25 a person (it's worth about eight dollars a person). Of course, we would never have gone there if it wasn't free, but it was still very nice of them to do that. Every employee of the hotel we interacted with was very nice and very helpful. Several of them spent a lot of time with us, as we tried to figure out the best way to get around the city, and so on. I would rate the hotel an A.
several taxi companies
I don't remember which taxi companies we used, but all three cabbies were very helpful. Of course I need a special wheelchair accessible cab, and there are a lot of those in the city. Anyway, we had a lot of luggage, and we needed a fair amount of help, and all three guys did what we needed. When we went way up in the mountains for the wedding, the cabbie was actually kind of grumpy, but we made it there on time.
For such a hilly place, San Francisco is a very accessible city. The streetcars, the buses, and the trains are all wheelchair accessible. Of the three, we only used the streetcars, but that was quite satisfactory. You either roll up a concrete ramp that puts you at streetcar-floor level, or you are carried up in a small outdoor lift. Certain places in the streetcar have to be cleared if a wheelchair traveler wants to use those spaces. During rush-hour, the streetcar is too crowded for someone in a wheelchair to get on and off without help. Fortunately, the drivers provide that help. Some of the hills are extremely steep, and going down them in a wheelchair is dangerous. When I'm going downhill, the weight of my arm pushes my hand against the joystick. I am not strong enough to pull my hand back if I get going very quickly. I did not have a wreck, but only because I was very cautious in certain steep spots. If I lived there, I would find the smoothest and gentlest ways to get up and down, but I know some areas would still only be accessible over steep terrain.