- Report: #1169438
Report - Rebuttal - Arbitrate
Complaint Review: Bayfront
Bayfront, Select State/Province USA
Bayfront Medical Center St. Petersburg Fl. Billing errors, harassment, dangerous treatment in the ER and lack of doctor supervision. St. Petersburg Florida
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Subject: Billing errors, harassment, dangerous treatment in the ER and lack of doctor supervision.
While I was attending a medical conference in September of 2013, I had an allergic reaction to mold and was brought to Bayfront Hospital where I was admitted to the ER and told by the nurses that I was most likely experiencing a stroke. In reality I had experienced an allergic reaction to mold exposure in the Hilton St. Petersburg where I was staying. The Hilton had been renovating the majority of their rooms at the time, and many of my fellow conference attendees also complained about having adverse reactions to the construction dust and mold.
While I was extremely grateful for the medical attention, I assured the nurses that I was not having a stroke, and that I have had this particular neurological reaction to mold for over fifteen years and was very well acquainted with the symptoms. I asked to speak with a doctor or a medical supervisor but was told that there were no doctors on the hospital premises at the time. On the insistence of the nursing staff that we rule out intracranial bleeding I submitted to a CT scan and blood work, and was administered intravenous Benadryl with something added for nausea. The symptoms immediately lessened.
While in the ER, I was attended to by two different nursing teams, each team insisting that I submit to additional medication, be admitted to the hospital, schedule an MRI and be seen by the staff neurologist the next morning, even though they told me that my blood work had come back completely normal. I explained that this was not necessary as the symptoms were already dissipating and I was certain they were a direct result of my exposure to the mold.
I asked how much Benadryl I could continue to take in order to combat the additional mold exposure I would be subjected to once I returned to the hotel. That’s when there was some confusion about the amount of medication that had already been administered to me. The nurses discovered that I had been treated by two separate nursing teams and given double-doses of all the IV meds. It was lucky that I had the presence of mind to refuse the additional meds they had been insisting upon, including Reglan, or the repercussions might have been far more serious. Because of the complete lack of M.D. supervision and the mistakes that had already been made, I decided to sign myself out.
Multiple bills soon trickled in from various departments at Bayfront hospital, and I made arrangements to pay them in installments. In December of 2013 I received a new bill from Bayfront for charges that totaled over $10,000. I was very confused about this, so as soon as I received the bill I immediately contacted Bayfront for an explanation and to arrange a payment plan, just as I had done with all the other departments. I was shuffled from billing representative to billing representative. Each live person I spoke to promised to look into the issue and return my call within 24 hours, but they never followed through. I eventually reached a representative by the name of Gaia in billing, who thanked me for persevering instead of simply ignoring the bill as many other patients have done in frustration with their system. She asked if I could afford to pay $125 a month. I explained that because Bayfront did not consolidate their billing and had sent me this last bill 3 months later than all the other department bills, I had already made arrangements to pay all the other bills and expenses that were incurred in conjunction with this ER visit, and could only afford to pay another $50 a month. She said she understood and agreed to let me pay this amount. In fact, I made a $50 credit card payment on the spot with her, and Gaia told me that the hospital would be sending me a receipt by mail and allow me to pay $50 by check every month thereafter until the bill was paid in full.
I never received a receipt, a bill or even heard from the hospital again, in spite of my continuing to diligently call the billing department and leave messages for several different billing supervisors through the end of May. How odd it was that no one knew who Gaia or any of the other representatives I had previously spoken to and mentioned by name and extension number were. It was as if they had all mysteriously disappeared into thin air.
Over the next few months I paid off the ambulance service, other administrative charges, and made a total of 5 different payments to Bayfront and their affiliated “physicians”, although I don’t know exactly who these physicians were because according to the nursing staff, there were no M.D.s present on the night I was admitted to the ER and I was definitely not examined by anyone other than the nurses.
Bayfront billed me for additional radiology and emergency room costs. I never received a superbill from Bayfront– only from several individual adjunct services. This was extremely confusing because all of the bills had Bayfront’s name on them. I paid every bill I received in good faith through March 1st of 2013, but there were no correspondences from the hospital thereafter. I had no way of knowing how much of the bill had been settled by my insurance company, and was tired of constantly calling Bayfront and requesting that they send me an itemized bill. Then in May of 2014 I received a letter notifying me that my account was delinquent and had been put into collection. I was outraged. After speaking with the hospital and the collection agency, I was told that nothing could be done and that I now needed to pay the bill in its entirety, which amounted to several thousand dollars.
I called West Asset Management (the collection agency), told that there was nothing I could do about being put into collection, and was asked if I would like to make a payment while they had me on the phone. When I said yes, I was told that they were legally obligated to tell me that agreeing to do so would constitute a legal acknowledgement that I was indeed delinquent and agreed to be put immediately into collection. I changed my mind immediately. They confirmed that they did have a record of my payments and that they did not know why the hospital had not sent me monthly billing statements or even acknowledged my payments. They had no idea who Gaia was, why she accepted my credit card payment for $50, nor recognized any of the other billing representatives I had spoken with. They only had records of one discussion I had with a Kevin Hagood with whom I briefly spoke on May 29th. He had promised to research the situation with the hospital and get back to me. He never did, and yet the written call record he filed claimed that he had discussed payment issues with me in detail and tried to make arrangements that I refused. He had in fact, done nothing of the sort.
I eventually spoke with about ten different people at West Asset Management including someone named Danita, Sean (a supervisor), Courtney Orr, her rep Mindy, and others who all reassured me that someone would get back to me once they had a chance to speak with Bayfront hospital billing and investigate what had happened. None of them ever did. Each time I called to get an update from the individual I had last spoken with, I was told that he/she did not exist and that the phone extension/direct line I had been given was an error.
I called Bayfront Medical Billing again on the 11th of June, making one more attempt to get this matter cleared, and in typical fashion was shuttled back and forth between departments and customer service representatives. I spoke with someone named Nicole who told me that no further discussions would be allowed: the account was in collection and I needed to remit payment in full (representing thousands of dollars) immediately. Out of all the calls I made to the hospital, I received only one callback and that was from a Christine Strom, who expressed her willingness to speak with me but assured me at the same time that her answer would be no different than that of any of the others I had already received.
In yet one more attempt to set the record straight, I finally reached out to Kathryn Gillette, the CEO of Bayfront Hospital and sent her a letter asking her to investigate the mistakes made by the hospital billing system. She responded to me within 24 hours, thanked me for my very articulate letter and promised to do a full review of the charges as well as look into the duplication of medications I had been given. She also said she would find out why I was told that there were no doctors on the premises that night, as it would have been illegal to administer treatment to me without a supervising physician. Then she added “It is our policy that obligations must be paid off within twenty-four (24) months. In your case, that obligation would be $125/month. In order to pull this account back from the collection agency, I will need to hear from you about whether or not the agreement for $125/month for 24 months is agreeable to you.” When I reiterated the financial hardship paying this amount would presently cause because I was already maxxed out on the other hospital bills and tried to negotiate an extended payment plan, Ms. Gillette responded in writing by saying "I thought that your primary concern was your credit rating. I guess I was mistaken", essentially turning a deaf ear to all of my complaints and reinforcing HMA's reputation for putting customer service dead last and being concerned only with the bottom line. And with that, I was back to square one: the investigation was apparently aborted and my account put into collection.
That was the last I heard from Ms. Gillette even though she had promised to get back to me at the end of the week. She never did, nor did she ever follow up on any of her other promises to investigate the improprieties. I would be happy to provide PeopleClaim and Bayfront Hospital with photocopies of my correspondences with Ms. Gillette as proof.
I have worked very hard to establish and maintain a good credit rating in spite of troubling financial times and hardships and Bayfront’s actions have sabotaged my standing. Sometimes policy needs to be flexible. Bayfront’s intransigence is unconscionable, bad business and reeks of scam. The administrative confusion, bureaucracy and sheer arrogance of the customer service department at Bayfront are all proof of something clearly broken in their system. I might add that there are numerous complaints about this hospital online, including 6 recently listed with the better business bureau. All of them pertain to billing issues similar to mine. There is also a pending lawsuit from a patient whose life was compromised by the “expertise” of the nurse practitioner in attendance and the absence of any doctors during his treatment.
One cannot squeeze blood from a stone. Why Bayfront would choose to ignore a request from an honest person like myself, who reached out to make good on my obligations defies logic. It points to a callousness that is indicative of apathy, ruthlessness and greed, none of which are characteristics one would associate with a good, honest hospital.
The ongoing federal investigation, high-profile lawsuits and the 60 Minutes report alleging improprieties in Bayfront’s emergency room practices certainly lend credence to my experience. I demand a review of all the hospital charges, as well as an acknowledgement by the hospital that they had failed to correspond with me, resulting in their billing error and subsequent involvement with their collection agency. I want my account pulled out of collection, an explanation and retraction submitted to the credit agencies, and reasonable arrangements for payment made.
This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 08/12/2014 11:38 PM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/r/Bayfront-/Select-StateProvince/Bayfront-Medical-Center-St-Petersburg-Fl-Billing-errors-harassment-dangerous-treatmen-1169438. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.
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