Elderly Dunbar woman low on oxygen can't reach medical company

An empty bottle of portable oxygen sat next to Rama Sutphin's hospital bed Thursday. (WCHS/WVAH)

The pure oxygen pumping out of Rama Sutphin’s compressor has been the only thing keeping her breathing for about two weeks, but she said her supply of oxygen is dwindling.

Sutphin said she hasn’t been getting her large or small portable oxygen tanks from her medical provider.

"Oh, it's scaring me,” Sutphin said. “It's got my blood pressure run up, can't sleep at night knowing I've got to have my oxygen."

Sutphin has been getting oxygen from A Plus Medical Equipment out of Milton for a range of lung issues for roughly six years. She said Thursday she is down to six small bottles and the rest are empty.

“It's going to kill me," she said.

Jeremiah Ege has worked as a patient advocate at Dunbar Towers where Sutphin lives for years.

"If you know a way to live without oxygen, let me know," he said.

Ege said they have tried to reach out to A Plus multiple times with no answer.

When Eyewitness News called the company's main number in the morning, afternoon, and night Thursday, the line continued ringing but no one answered. We also traveled to three separate locations listed online as an A Plus office, one in Milton, another on Route 60 just outside of Huntington, and a third within Huntington city limits, and did not find a store there.

Other associated numbers were disconnected.

Ege says Sutphin can't even change companies until A Plus picks up.

"Medicare's hands are tied until they get the transfer paperwork from the current supplier authorizing payment to the new provider," he said.

Ege said Sutphin's compressor will need serviced eventually leaving her breathless, and without portable oxygen she won't be able to get to her doctors.

"Already appointments made for it,” Sutphin said, “and I'm going to have to cancel them all."

Ege said someone has already reached out to the West Virginia Attorney General's Office to complain.

Attorney General Press Secretary Curtis Johnson released a statement saying A Plus has received one complaint since January 2017.

“State law, under most circumstances, does not permit the attorney general to disclose the existence or absence of any investigation,” Johnson said in the statement.

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