Nurse says AAA denied her car help because of COVID-19 concerns

Coronavirus

CHICAGO — A nurse at Rush University Medical Center said she was denied help from AAA when she had a car problem, and it was due to the pandemic.

Anna Sonkin said her keys were locked in the car Tuesday night. She called AAA for roadside service.

Three calls later and learning her membership had lapsed, she was allowed to renew for an additional $50.

The dispatcher said due to the pandemic, Sonkin needed to answer a question about her potential exposure to the virus.

Sonkin answered there was potential exposure because she is a dialysis nurse at Rush. She told the dispatcher it was possible but the hospital followed CDC guidelines on the use of PPE.

After being put on hold, Sonkin said the dispatcher came back and said AAA could not help her.

“The person I was talking to said she needed to talk to her supervisor,” Sonkin said. “And then when she came back on the phone, she said, ‘We are very sorry but we can’t help you. You going to have to deal with this on your own.’”

Sonkin said she believes she is owed an apology.

AAA issued a statement to WGN News that said:

“We are continually working to ensure AAA is taking the proper precautions for COVID-19 and following the CDC guidelines as the safety of our employees and members is our top priority. We do ask if members have been exposed to COVID-19, which allows us to alert the technician, take additional safety precautions and make any necessary alternate transportation arrangements. It is not our policy to deny service. We are looking into this matter and will follow up with the member and employees to ensure this doesn’t happen again. We appreciate the work all our first responders are doing in these unprecedented times.”

On Thursday, AAA spokeswoman Beth Mosher provided WGN with an additional update on Sorkin’s situation:

“This morning our VP of Automotive Services called Anna. He expressed our sincere apology for the service failure she experienced on March 31. He thanked her for the work she is doing in the community as a medical care professional and assured her that AAA stands behind our essential workers. They talked about the procedures we have in place and that unfortunately the Supervisor involved in handling her request did not follow these guidelines and how we are working to address the issue by retraining the employee. Our team is also covering the cost for the private service she secured, and we would also be renewing her membership complimentary for the next year. She was extremely appreciative of the call and very happy with our response and the steps we were taking to resolve.

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