Saturday, October 3, 2009

Another angry open letter to another hospital, just because.

I doubt this hospital will ever see this because, well, they are super low tech. But hey, if anyone wants to print this off & pony express it out to Pleasant Valley Hospital, feel free.

I want to start this rant by saying that my midwife suggested this hospital & many of the people there were just beyond fabulous. A couple of the nurses were amazing, one named Diane was very nice the entire time & even told me on her last shift while I was there her upcoming work days & hours if I wanted to talk to her. There was another on the day I checked out who was very nice, she actually called Joel by his name & told me how awful she felt for having to hand me discharge instructions that read like they did...but I'll get to that in a moment.

I got a bill in the other day from radiology. I had no idea what it was for, but then I remembered. It was the ultrasound to, again, confirm my son was dead. While the doctors office knew the situation, no one else could communicate this to anyone at the hospital.

We went to the OB's office, to ultrasound, the lab, then to OB to get induced. Fun times.

I went to the ultrasound, they again wouldn't let Adam come with me. She makes small talk on the way, asking why I think someone is wrong with my baby. I had to explain everything to her. I lay there, crying, as she does the scan. I ask if she can tell me anything, she tells me she can't but they will get the radiologist in at the end to go over things with me. After a few minutes, he comes in & looks at the screen. Never looking at me, he goes on & on about how he thinks the baby already has "very bad head deformities" & there is no way of knowing how long "it'd been dead."

He finally looks at me & tells me "Alright, we are all done here, go back to the doctors office & he'll give you the results."

I tell him I already know the results, I explain AGAIN we'd already had this confirmed. He tells me to see the doctor. So, again, I tell him what has happened & we've been told to go get induced. He, again, tells me to go to my doctors office & he'll explain the results to me. I finally blurt out, "I've already been told my baby is dead, that there is no heartbeat, at Cabell just tell me, do you agree that he's dead or not?" Then, in a voice as if I'd asked him if he wanted cheese on his burger for lunch he says, "Oh yeah, I agree with that!"

So now I'm being billed for that asshole to talk about my dead baby while standing 1 foot away from me, but refusing to tell me anything. This set forth an hour of me crying in the waiting area of the hospital because what he had said was horrifying to me & scared me even more than I had been before. BTW, jackass was wrong, there was nothing at all wrong with Joel. For the record. So panic about "deformities" was pointless.

Let me continue about my day & experience overall.

I go to the lab. As I cry there, they keep asking "we aren't hurting you, are we?!" but I tell them it's not them. I don't let them know what's going on because I'd been enough it enough already.

Go to OB. They were nice. I have no real issues about the treatment from anyone in that OB department, they were great.

I get hooked up to antibiotics. You see, I was group b strep positive. The doctor insisted that I take them. I didn't care enough to argue, but it was like salt in the dead baby wound to be honest. You only take antibiotics to protect your baby during delivery. They were pointless. While I liked this doctor, I didn't like that. I also didn't like how while I was in the exam room & he was getting everything ready for me to go get induced he kept talking about my blood test & how if things came back positive it's no big deal, more babies can come in the future & I can just take blood thinners. When you're 9 months pregnant, your son just died, you are about to go labor to deliver said dead son, & your husband is standing next to you 5 weeks post-vasectomy, it's not the time to discuss these things. He also said similar remarks to my parents. I get WHY he said it, to make us feel like we shouldn't lose all hope on having more kids, but when he didn't know the back story I don't think it's a good idea to speak.

Having a new baby will do nothing for us dead baby parents. You know why? Because we still have a dead baby. Well, we won't. Hence the problem here.

Anyway, back to my experience. There was a woman, I'm not sure what she was, but she was basically made our grief worker. She had no idea how to do this. While nice, he was kinda, well, dumb. She asked how Jules was dealing with this. Adam later said "I don't think Jules knows we have more than 1 cat sometimes." He was 17 months old, he had no idea I was even pregnant honestly. So it was a silly question. She was the same lady who suggested we take all the baby stuff back to the store to get store credit.

While I labored, they did more blood work. The lady who came in to draw blood had no idea the situation because she kept making small talk about inductions & babies like nothing was wrong. She was nice, I really have no complaint about her really, but she should have known. I handled it well, others might not.

Looking back, I feel like a hostage negotiator when it came to my son. They wanted to take him to the morgue & they wanted to do it when they wanted to. They didn't like that I wanted to keep him in the room. After midnight a supervisor wanted to speak to us about it. I sent Adam to deal with it, but the entire time he was in the hallway I was ready to pack up & leave. If they had an issue & were going to demand that he leave the room, I was going home. There was no reason for me to be there. Bright & early in the morning, the woman from above came in & announced "you know, you have to let us take him sometime." Looking back, that pisses me off. She didn't say it rude, but it didn't need to be said. Of course I know we have to let them, but I don't think I should feel as if I"m working on their time line. It was the only time we'd ever get to spend with my son, don't rush me.

Oh yeah, I also don't appreciate the lab worker who came in bright & early the morning after I had Joel who took my blood. She stared at him. Like not just stared, like she looked at him like she was disturbed by him. Even as she drew my blood, she was looking at him out of the corner of her eye. At that moment, I felt embarrassed. Maybe this was creepy & weird that I wanted to keep him in the room with me. I know now it wasn't, but I should have never had to feel that way. I guess she didn't know the situation until she was in the room, but that just shows again that these things need communicated. That way, no one uncomfortable with it needs to be involved. Trust me, I don't expect everyone to be comfortable with the situation, I wouldn't have a year ago, but things obviously changed. But yeah, only a few people ever saw Joel in person & I don't need any memories of someone being, well, creeped out by him.

Know what else I didn't like? My discharge paperwork. They really should have dead baby mom paperwork. Know what mine said? Not to hold anything more heavy that my newborn & gave tips on breastfeeding. The paper I had to fill out about home care was two sided. The really nice nurse, whose name I think was Rachel, marked one side off. I knew what it was, but I had to look anyway. That was the baby care side. I was suppose to check off everything if I felt comfortable doing it, like feeding & bathing. Anyway, Rachel, she was nice. I liked her very much.

In a crazy situation, it's good I think to look back & not have total shit memories. While it was a total shit situation, there are good people I'll never forget. My midwife, Angy, for being supportive & giving me the truth. Diane & Rachel (god, I hope that was her name) for being fabulous as well. Diane cleaned Joel up, then wrapped him in a blanket & bought him besides my bed where I could see him. She also refereed to him as "the baby" in the nursing notes. I have copies of my records, honestly the saddest things I've ever read. Doing things I don't even remember. Another nurse called him "the dead infant." She was actually decent as well, but she didn't have the best way of expressing things. She was funny, not really intentionally, but she was our comic relief at times. But she tried. That's much more than I can say others did. Like our dear friend, the radiologist.

So you may ask yourself why am I so fired up about this now? Well, it's been going on for months but now I'm annoyed enough to share it.

The amount of $2800. You see, that's what we had to pay for an autopsy. Autopsy...that is an awful word. Had to pay for it before the doctor would even consider doing it. Adam went to the cashiers desk & paid with my credit card. Awful. We were told that insurance may pay for it, which when we contacted them they told us they don't usually pay for them. But the hospital also told us that sometimes if you submit it after the fact, they will pay for at least some of it. We were told they'd reject it but on appeals they would usually pay some. The catch? We would have to point out that really paying for an autopsy was cost effective. Since the baby was dead, they had to pay for no health cost for the child. And we had to play the "future children" card, saying that the results could determine if he was lost due to something genetic, which would also save their future cost if we decided not to have any more children because it could happen again or we could have a baby with health problems.

So about a month after, I decided I was ready to tackle this. I was also hopeful they would pay for some of it since the hospital did actually bill for a portion of the autopsy where they examined my placenta & insurance accepted & paid for that. So I called insurance in late June, asking how to submit a claim. I was told I had 6 months, I had to submit a form, a receipt of payment, & an itemized bill. I was withing the 6 months, I had the form printed out, I had the receipt, I just needed a bill. How hard could that be?

Really fucking hard. I called a few times, explained the situation, got a few people who were sad for me but couldn't do anything. I was basically told a bill was never created since it was a service that required prepayment. For whatever reason, no one could ever tell me who could create a bill for me.

After the first couple weeks. I spent 3 weeks calling every single time, sometimes many times a day. I spoke to every single department, even medical records. I left messages for higher ups with the story, none of them called me back. A couple assistants, like a lab assistant, called me back & said they promised they'd have someone call me to get what I needed by the following day.

That day came & went. I was finally fed up & in August I contacted my credit card company & disputed the charge.

You see, what really pisses me off is that no one could actually tell us how much an autopsy was. We were told until the time we had to pay for it & it could range to "up to $2800" & it just depended on this & that. Some of the paperwork we got back from outside lab testing on tissue samples even state that because they were unable to do this or that, they had sent a refund to the hospital. So to be perfectly honest, I'm actually convinced that we were overcharged & they don't want to admit it. There is no fucking reason otherwise to deny me an itemized bill if it wouldn't show that they owed me money in return. So that's just salt in the wound, knowing that these people could have overcharged me for my sons autopsy. I mean really, can you get any lower than that?

Anyway, they had 30 days to submit proof of charges. On like day 29, they did. The proof? A copy of the merchant receipt. You know that thing that prints out saying they charged your card? That. I was very pissed off. I know how fucking much was charged to my card, I don't need that. First I was pissed that the hospital did that, knowing it wasn't a bill. And then I was pissed that Chase had accepted that as proof. So I got the joy of calling Chase back yet again & explaining the situation. I was finally directed to someone who had the nerve to tell me if I wanted an itemized bill I needed to contact them...but as soon as I started to respond I think she realized I was beyond pissed (it didn't help that the 800 number for Chase hung up on me 4 times before giving me a real person to talk to), she quickly corrected herself & said they could do that for me. But because I'm disputing the same thing, this time I have to fill out detailed paperwork explaining my dispute in writing to insure I get exactly what I want from the hospital.

Don't get me wrong, it's not like I want out of paying this. But I want a fucking bill. I want to make sure I wasn't overcharged & I want to be able to get at least SOME of this back from insurance. My window closes at the end of November to file the claim. I just did this to get a fucking bill to submit. When we were encouraged by the hospital to submit this to insurance, why not fucking help us with it? Don't stand out in the hallway with my husband at midnight & tell him how we can appeal it then not give me what I need to submit it in the first place.

And you know what? Screw all of the people I spoke to about this situation. Seriously. There is no reason at all that I shouldn't be able to get a bill made, even if it shows that I owe nothing. Shame on all of these people pushing it to other people who just ignore me. Shame on all of those people who ignore my message, some of which I'm upset & on the verge of tears talking about my dead son. Avoiding me does nothing, it just pisses me off.

So I CAN get billed for a jerk who wants his $12 to confirm that my baby was dead but didn't want to tell me even though he stood there & said all of these awful things in front of me. But I can't get a bill to try to have my insurance pay for some of the autopsy we had to pre-pay for. I have to put up with a lab tech giving my baby odd stares, comments suggesting I take my sons things back for store credit, discharge paperwork telling me how to feed my baby, & in the end someone had to come in our room & take back our baby bracelets for him because he needed them both to go to the morgue & then the funeral home...but I can't get a bill?

I left this hospital out of the back door in the OB department in tears, cried in the bathroom as I had to get dressed in my maternity clothes to go home without a baby, carried out a bowl & a few other baby related items after feeling like a hostage negotiator to even have him with go home to an empty house & get ready to plan a funeral for my baby. The least I think I deserve is a bill to maybe cut some of our losses since we racked up credit card debt paying for all of this. But no, we can't do that. No one will take responsibility for that one.

So now that I've ranted & feel better, I'm going to check out the hospital website for Pleasant Valley Hospital & pick out everyone I should send letters to. I figure I'll take parts of this blog & just form it into a nice letter shaming them for this insanity & see if that gets any response. What could it hurt? They ignore me? Wouldn't be the first time, I'm pretty use to it at this time.

Maybe I should just start listing contact info of where you can also send angry letters on my behalf. Not that you have to or anything, but I'm all about an angry posse of people joining together for a cause. I'd love to write angry letters for others as well, so if you need my ranting services let me know, I'm more than happy to share my anger.

Oh, & that asshole will get his $12 when I get my bill to submit to insurance. Maybe I should write that on the bill & submit that with my letter. Just a thought.


  1. Oh Jess....that is terrible. I can't believe how awful these people were to you. Between these two hospitals is there another hospital you can choose to deliver at if you have another baby? Doesn't sound like either one of these hospitals is very patient focused. To really focus on the patient you need to have a bedside manner and it doesn't sound like these hospitals do. *hugs*

  2. This hospital actually isn't close to's about 45 minutes away. We went there because my midwifes consulting OB works there, so it wouldn't be an option anyway. There is another hospital in town, where we had Jules, but where I'm going to be labeled high risk to some, I may have to deliver at a hospital with a NICU if I go to a local doctor. At this rate, I'll be drive 45 minutes (in another direction than PVH) to a place called Charleston & having any future babies there. I also plan on going there for prenatal care anyway. The only perinatal specialist in my area are the ones who misdiagnosised Joel in the first place, so I'll be avoiding them as much as possible. So Charleston, here I come.



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