Warm Southern Breeze

"… there is no such thing as nothing."

Trouble from Huntsville Hospital

Posted by Warm Southern Breeze on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

NOTE: I share the following with explicit permission.

A dear, elderly and retired friend of mine will, in coming days, be scheduled for surgery. Most likely, the procedure(s) will be performed at Huntsville Hospital.

Because my friend is retired, she receives a modest (meager would be more appropriately accurate) private pension, supplemented with Social Security income. Altogether, she has monthly income of under $1500. She has no other financial resources, no stocks or bonds, no trust fund, no secret Swiss bank account or any retirement savings.

Because of some troubles initiated by the Internal Revenue Service – the result of a genuine mistake NOT made by her – she continues to suffer negative repercussions from numerous levels of governmental agencies, all which have some aspect in the delivery of compassionate care, either through medical resources, or others.

Specifically, she was receiving assistance from the state of Alabama in paying the Medicare premiums, and was receiving Medicaid, which is the medical assistance provided for low-income individuals and families. Because of the error, the assistance she was receiving from the state and federal agencies was changed, reduced or eliminated – all to her detriment. She has no other form of savings, or retirement benefits.

Previously, she had a bout with breast cancer, resulting mastectomy and reconstructive surgery, one knee replacement surgery, laproscopic knee surgery on the other, a couple of bladder tacks – a procedure to assist maintain continence, and two cataract surgeries – one which created significant problems and nearly blinded her in one eye, requiring another opthalmic surgeon of international renown to correct.

As I write, her shoulders are needing surgery to remove calcium deposits that are causing excruciating pain, and resulting weakness. Because of arthritis, one of her hands has been so weakened that surgery to improve its function may be shortly forthcoming. Naturally, diagnostic imaging (MRI, X-ray, etc.) for all the above will be necessary.

The aging process brings with it well-documented problems, most notably which are hypertension (high blood pressure), sometimes diabetes, cataracts, and other degenerative processes that interfere with normal function, sometimes also causing significant problems to the extent that surgical intervention is necessary to alleviate or ameliorate (reduce) the problem. Corollary to that are several prescriptions to treat the symptoms, none of which can cure, and provide only temporary relief.

Socially, she is twice widowed, has two adult children, the elder male whom suffers from Multiple Sclerosis and a resulting forced medical retirement for nearly 17 years, and a younger working self-employed daughter whom lives on the poverty borderline with her working self-employed husband and two teen children.

Despite all this, she leads an active life, has a resilient attitude and though often in pain, complains only when the pain is greater than she can adequately bear, or when the pain medications wear off.

Now to the present issue at hand… Huntsville Hospital.

Acknowledging that she will need assistance in praying for… er, paying for procedures because her medical assistance was mistakenly eliminated, she has availed herself to whatever channels exist for the same at Huntsville Hospital, providing them with an official statement from her financial institution about her monthly income.

Huntsville Hospital, not being satisfied with the official statement from her credit union, has demanded she provide her monthly statements instead.

Shocked and outraged at their inordinate request, she has refused, because as she said, “they already have an official statement about my income.”

Sometimes,” she said, “for convenience, my daughter may deposit her money into my account and then have me write a check to her for the same amount. So, it doesn’t accurately reflect my situation. And  besides, why do they need to know how much I pay for rent, gas, groceries, credit card or utilities?”

She quickly added that, “They [Social Security and Medicare] know my situation, that I’ve received help, that my income hasn’t changed, and Huntsville Hospital talks to those official agencies regularly.

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