I got a phone call from Chase today, the credit card we used for Joel's autopsy. I'd disputed the charge because the hospital, for months, has refused to give me a bill. I've been shuffled around & ignored. If you like to read about that, you can click here.
Anyway, Chase tells me basically they are out of the timeline to be able to do anything. The can request a bill from a vender, but after so many days they can't actually demand it. I wish they told me that 2 weeks ago when I filled out paperwork going over my sons death & autopsy woes.
A very nice Jennifer (nice people have that name I've realized) took my number & is going to call me tomorrow. She said since they are refusing to give me a bill & I feel as though I could have been overcharged, they may be able to do something for me. Tomorrow we'll see.
But, just in case, I wrote a letter. I'm planning on sending it to, well, everyone who works at Pleasant Valley Hospital.
October 19, 2009
To Whom It May Concern:
I’m writing to discuss a situation I’ve been having with your hospital for the past several months. Please be aware that I’m also sending the same copy of this letter to various departments in the hospital, as when I’ve contacted people by telephone I’ve been shuffled around over and over again to separate departments since no one can tell me exactly who I need to talk to.
On May 27, 2009, I was admitted to your hospital to be induced with my 40 week term son. I was being induced because the day before this, I found out my son was dead. After a 26 hour induction my son, Joel Tristan Culver, was stillborn on May 28th.
The OB staff were amazing during this time. I have no issues with them. In fact, even though we had a couple unsatisfactory moments during our stay in your hospital, the nurses in OB made up for it and we held no hard feelings. I’ve also spoken to Dr. LaCarbonara on the phone, and he was very sincere about my loss as well.
We opted for an autopsy on our son, which is why I’ve spoken to Dr. LaCarbonara. I wasn’t fond of the idea, but my husband wanted to see if we could get any answers to why we lost our son. Since I couldn’t give my husband his son, I felt I owed him the chance to have answers, so we agreed to the autopsy. No one could really tell us much about the process of the autopsy, as far as paperwork or cost. We heard “up to $2800” and that “it depends on the paperwork” but no one ever really could explain it to us. In these discussions, we were encouraged to talk to our insurance to find out if they would cover it. When we made employees aware that our insurance didn’t normally pay for this type of thing, we were told by a few different people to submit it anyway because sometimes insurance will pay it or at least a portion of it. One supervisor my husband spoke to even went as far as to give suggestions on what to write in our appeal letter in effort to have insurance pay at least a portion, such as to point out that since our son was dead there would be no health care cost associated for him.
After about a month, I finally felt up to trying to get ahold of insurance and going through the claim process. I was told I needed a claim form, proof that I paid which I had in form of a receipt, and a itemized bill showing the following: patients name, date of service, type of service, charge for service(s), diagnosis and/or procedure code(s), and the identification number of the provider. As a hospital that bills for items, I’m sure you know what is needed. That day I started a quest for a bill. I sit here on October 19th, still without said bill.
I’ve called several people and several departments. The cashier, the hospital billing and doctor billing, the laboratory, even medical records. Never thinking that I’d have an issue like this, I didn’t bother to make note of dates, people spoken to, etc. The people I’ve spoken to admit they have no idea what to do for me, telling me a bill was never made since it required pre-payment. Apparently, no one can figure out how to create a bill either, so I’m directed to supervisors in hopes they can help me. I’ve left countless messages for countless supervisors, none have called me back. The only return call I’ve ever received was from a lab assistance, I believe named Becky, who told me herself she’d been trying to get someone to call me for the past 3 days at that point.
After two months, yes two months, of calling the hospital several times a week, I finally attempted to go through my credit card company to see if they could aid me in getting a bill. Sadly, I’ve since found out that I’m outside the time frame for them to assist me in obtaining any type of bill.
My husband and I suffered a loss I can’t even put into words. I endured 26 hours of labor to deliver our son, only to come home alone after sending our son to your morgue. While nurses in the OB department were wonderful, outside employees weren’t. I endured one of your employees suggesting that we take all of our baby stuff back for store credit. A lab worker came in to take my blood hours after I delivered and she looked at my dead son with disgust the entire time she was in my room, even as she was taking my blood she was looking at him out of the corner of her eyes, she actually made me feel ashamed for having him with me. Someone came in our room first thing in the morning & told us “you have to let us take him sometime, you know” then picked a time on the clock she’d come back. We almost felt as though we were in hostage negations to keep our son with us the only chance we had to ever be with him. My discharge paperwork explained to me foods to avoid while nursing and not to lift anything heavier than my newborn. The nurse was very apologetic about that fact, but it didn’t keep me from going to the bathroom and crying before pulling it together enough to walk out the back door of your OB department, carrying nothing but a baby blanket and a bowl that held his tape measure and a lock of his hair. Then it was almost humorous weeks later when we received our newborn pictures from your hospital because they were sent postage due for having them mailed to us. The postal worker, realizing what “infant bereavement” meant on the envelope, insisted I just take them without paying for the postage due.
All of these things never really mattered to me, but this situation of being basically refused a bill to submit to my insurance, which was suggested by your employees, just makes it all too much to withstand. I’m confused about how a hospital, who is suppose to be dedicated to patients and their needs, can put me in this situation. I had much closer to home options to deliver my son, but my midwife spoke very highly of your hospital so my husband and I made a 45 minute drive to and from to your hospital. Looking back I suppose I should have requested one before I paid, but considering my son had just died and I’d just gone through childbirth, it wasn’t a thought in my mind. I thought your hospital would be there for me if I needed help later. I was wrong. Each message I relived my loss, telling who I was, my sons name and that he was stillborn. I’m shocked that so many people have ignored my request for even a simple phone call in return, ignoring tearful messages of a grieving mother.
I’m very aware that you can create a bill. In fact, I’ve received a couple from your hospital already. I received a bill from Dr. LaCarbonara for a portion of the autopsy which was to examine my placenta. I’ve also received a bill for my portion of the ultrasound I received on May 27th. That was a wonderful experience, as well. My husband wasn’t allowed in the room with me and when the radiologist came back, he stood a foot away from me, never making eye contact, and pointing at the screen talking about “head deformities” and commented that there is “no way to know how long it’s been dead” with the technician. He finally did make eye contact with me, smiled, & told me to go back to my doctors office for a report of the ultrasound. As if I didn’t just hear everything he’d said about my son. After that I spent about 2 hours in your lobby, hysterically crying, horrified about what he’d just said about my son, scared to deliver and even scared to ever see my son. And, for the record, he was incorrect, there were no deformities. Considering I can get a bill for that “treatment” I think I should be able to get a bill for my sons autopsy to have insurance help pay for at least a portion of it.
I only have approximately a month before I lose the opportunity to submit this to my insurance. And while it would be wonderful to have a bill sent to me, I’m aware from these several months of attempting to receive a bill that it’s very unlikely that I’ll receive one for whatever reason. I do not understand the difficulty of creating a bill with the needed information for me. At this point, I’m convinced that there must be a reason a detailed bill is being refused to me. The only reason I can think a bill cannot be created is if it would show we overpaid and were owed a refund and your hospital does not want to admit this or give any refund due. If that is the case, this situation is much more pathetic than I thought.
As the case with many other things around the loss of my son, I’ll have to make peace on my own regarding this situation. Because of the kindness of many people on your staff, my husband and I discussed having any future children in your hospital. After this experience however, your hospital has been tarnished in my eyes. And when people ask about my experience at your hospital or anything relating to the loss of my son, this will be the story I’ll share, the fact that grieving parents were refused a bill for an autopsy. While we weren't outwardly refused a bill, ignoring our calls and request is simply silent refusal.
If anyone would like to discuss this matter with me, feel free to contact me at the information below.
I know angry complaint letters should be short & to the point, leave out the emotion. But emotion, it's all I've got anymore. And this way, if they never respond, at least I've told them off. And hey, I'll take any victory I can get, no matter how small.