Thursday, September 3, 2009

The best angry letter ever written...

I've previously shared the story of my angry letter to the hospital that confirmed that we'd lost Joel. If you haven't read that, you may want to go read that now since you won't know what's going on otherwise.

I'll wait...


...done? Good job!

Anyway, this morning the story grew. My midwife called me & told me the hospital director had called her. My letter made it's way to her it turns out. She apologized for my midwife for how I was treated. She talked about how other nurses spoke up & backed up my details of the events that unfolded at the OB window that day. She then asked my midwife to contact me with her name & number, she wanted to speak to me. Why? Because they want to know what they can do at their hospital to better serve families who lose their children. They want to hear how they can make this fuckery up to me, as well as what I think they should do to make this a better situation for families in the future.

The pressure, it's on.

I'm planning on calling her tomorrow. I'm guessing I'll get to speak to her tomorrow since she actually stopped a meeting to even speak to my midwife, so I think somehow I've become a priority at the place somehow. Who would have thought?

Of course, what's funny to me is that my midwife told me that she said it was very obvious that I put a great deal of time & thought into what I put in the letter & commented that it must have took some time to work on to articulate it all so well.

I wrote that letter in a fit of rage over a 90 minute period. But if it seems well prepared, I guess I did better than I thought.

So I figured now, since this is the 2nd time I've spoke about this letter & I'm guessing I'll update at least once more on the subject after speaking to the director, I will share the best written angry letter ever. Be impressed, because as much as I'll write in a blog, I hate people reading my letters. Go figure.

July 15, 2009

To Whom It May Concern:

I am writing concerning a visit to your hospital on May 26, 2009. I realize that it has been several weeks since the visit, but once I share what we’ve recently experienced I’m sure you’ll understand why it has taken this long to contact you.

On the above mentioned date, I went to an appointment with my midwife who isn’t affiliated with Cabell Huntington. I was 40 weeks pregnant and expecting our second son any day. At the appointment with my midwife we discovered there was no heart beat. Hoping for the best, we went to Cabell Huntington Hospital. On the way, my midwife contacted the OB department and spoke to the head triage nurse, explained the situation, and was told to make sure we knew that we were to bypass registration and to go straight to OB, that they would do any needed paperwork to register me in this situation and would have a room waiting on me when I got there to do an ultrasound. My midwife, of course, explained this to us and that is exactly what we did in hopes that something could be done for our son.

When we arrived at the OB department I told the lady working at the OB window that my midwife had called ahead but she cut me off and rudely told my husband and I that we needed to go downstairs and register, that she wouldn’t let us back until we did. I became emotional and said “you don’t understand, we were told to by pass that” and she acted as though she was about to interrupt me again so I then blurted out “my baby has no heartbeat, we were told people were waiting on us and to bypass that.” She then said “Okay, well you can come back by he can’t go back until he goes down to register you,” still using a very cold, uncaring tone. The he she was referring to was my husband, the only person I had with me for support. She was not interested in finding out if there was a room waiting on me like my midwife had been told. My husband and I were both visibly upset but, again, hoping for the best and hoping that the sooner I was seen something could be done for our son, I turned to tell my husband to just do it, realizing that we could be wasting precious time for our son. We were saying nothing so we did nothing to prompt it, but just as I was telling my husband to just go downstairs and do it the lady again speaks up and said something along the lines of “you have to register, you’ve never been here before so you can’t just come back” once again in a very rude tone, almost sounding as if she just wanted to get one more final word in. At that point my husband raised his voice somewhat and corrected her that we had in fact been there before, which we had indeed so to us her comment made no sense as well as being unwarranted.

A few moments later a nurse came out and told us to both come back right then and we were ushered to the private triage room that had been prepared for us like our midwife had told us would be waiting on us. I’m not sure what promoted the nurse to come out and realize we were there, maybe it was the fact that my husband raised his voice at the end or maybe another nurse checked to see if what we were saying was correct, as there were a handful of nurses near the desk when we approached the window and when I said that my baby had no heartbeat they all stopped and looked up at us, so it’s possible one of those nurses were compassionate enough to check on what we were saying.

Either way, it didn’t matter because our son was pronounced dead once an ultrasound was preformed. We were crushed to say the least. We’d been preparing for our son for months and now we were told we’d lost him. I cannot even begin to describe the feelings and emotions we had about the situation, but I can tell you I was very upset by the treatment we were give by the lady at the desk of the OB department on that evening. Everyone else we encountered was very kind, but the attitude of that one woman made the experience even worse on us.

Please understand that I know that paperwork and proper registration is very important. However, it can also be lengthy. In my previous pregnancy there were times I was required to go be monitored at your hospital. When those instances occurred, my husband was sent to register me downstairs while I was taken back to triage alone. Each time, he was gone at least 45 minutes but it was never an issue because it was never an emergency situation like we were in on that day in May. I find it very sad that my husband was expected to go downstairs, register me in the system, the entire time not knowing if his son and wife were alright. In even a short time had passed, my husband wouldn’t have known if our son had passed, he wouldn’t have known if I was rushed to an operating room for a c-section to perhaps save our son or anything else. Not to mention that emotionally I do not know what would have happened if I were alone when I was told the devastating news.

I’ve trusted Cabell Huntington Hospital for several years to care for myself, my family and my friends. I’ve usually picked Cabell Huntington affiliated providers and recommended them to family and friends. I’ve always trusted the care and I’ve always been treated kindly. However, what we received from that woman on that day wasn’t care or concern, she only seemed bothered and didn’t want to listen and showed no compassion. She was still very stern that we needed to register even though we were there in an emergency situation. He tone never changed, nor did her expression. Sadly, since this has happened I’ve found out that late pregnancy losses are not uncommon so your staff may be use to dealing with these tragedies. However, my husband and I aren’t and when you’re in a tragic situation you need compassion, which is something I believe every medical professional needs to have. On paper, we were there to find out if we had “fetal demise.” But to us, we were there to find out if we lost our son. Because of how we were treated, after finding out our son had passed we decided to leave the hospital and go to another to deliver our son. As I said, everyone else we encountered were kind to us and we appreciated that, but we couldn’t chance dealing with anyone else at that time who showed so little care for us as the lady at the window had already shown.

I’m unsure what regular policy is in this situation, but I would hope that we were the exception and not the rule. I wonder if I had showed up alone, would I have been forced to go register myself before being treated? I would think not, or I suppose I should say I hope not. If being there alone would have allowed me to be seen without registering downstairs, why is it even suggested that my husband be separated from me in that time of emotional turmoil, unable to know what is happening to his wife and unborn child? If we had gone back to triage and found out our baby was in fact alright, he would have gladly gone to register me. But at 40 weeks we were very aware that the chances of a doppler not being able to detect fetal heart tones was very unlikely, so when we walked in the hospital we knew it was likely going to be very bad news, as I’m sure the medical personnel did as well, which is even more reason to allow us to stay together to have the news told to both of us at the same time. If he would have needed to register me afterwards, we would have even understood that, but expecting him to leave without knowing anything for an unknown amount of time isn’t reasonable to ask.

If this is a case of just one person mishandling the situation and not how staff is suppose to respond to these situations, I ask that your staff be reminded of not only how these situations should be handled, but to remind them that to every patient this isn’t a something we are normally prepared for and that we need to be showed care in this tragic situation. Again, medical personnel may have this happen enough to not be outwardly effected, but to my husband and I, we had just lost our child. As many bad memories as we have of that day, we didn’t need an added bad memory of this lady treating us poorly.

If it is regular policy to separate a woman in an emergency situation away from her support person before anything is known about the condition of her or her unborn child, I ask on the behalf of other families who lose their unborn children in the future for your hospital to rethink this standing. Like I’ve explained, I cannot put into words the pain I felt and the emotions I had. In fact, the doctor had to ask me to try to hold still because I was crying so hard while she was doing the ultrasound. If at any time I needed support from my husband, it was then. And at the same time, he needed to be there for himself, to know what was happening to his wife and child. I personally think that is a basic right he should have as a father and my husband. The families this horrible situation happens to have enough pain, sadness, and anger. They do not need anymore from care providers.

While nothing can be done about our experience that day, I write in hopes of making a difference for those women who walk through your doors after me, waiting to confirm their worse fears. If you would need any other information about this incident or would like to speak with me about it, please contact me using the information I’ve provided below.


Jessica Culver

And tomorrow, I get to speak to the main lady. Wish me luck, I didn't feel like I had smoke blown up my ass a couple months ago, let's hope I don't get that feeling this time.

I've even utilized paint on my laptop to show you what I'll be doing tomorrow...


Thank you to the movie Milk for that idea.

I have no idea what's up with my hair though. I just know I like pink. I know I look a little crazed, that holds true for tomorrow I'm sure.


  1. That was very well written, I can see why they are taking this seriously (as they should!). Also, I love the new blog layout.

  2. Honey, I watched you "prepare" to write that letter for a month and a half; that's why I didn't care to see it, I knew you already had it perfect before you started typing.

  3. Erin and I experienced the same thing when we were sent to CHH to have monitoring done for Mikey one day when our midwife could not find a strong heartbeat. It took me finally raising my voice to the clerk and telling her that I would not leave my wife for any reason adn that they needed to open the door immediately. Once we were taken back it was pretty obvious that she had no clue. She told me to go register, but once we were taken in, all of Erin's information was already in the system because our provider preregistered with both CHH and SMMC.



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