Clarification: I noticed a lot of negative comments in regards to this situation so I wanted to summarize this so there are no misconceptions: My Doctor told me to go to the ER because my conditions have worsened and my follow-up was not going to be until after the weekend. When I told them my conditions were worsened and my Doctor told me to go to the ER, they continued to claim that it was not an emergency. This has nothing to do with insurance as I have insurance. A doctor pre-diagnosed me without even seeing me and said if I want to be treated for the very things they listed to seek immediate medical care for, I had to pay $200 dollars because of this new policy. I am aware of the stigma around Medicaid, however when my doctor tells me to go to the ER, I and everyone else should expect to be treated at the ER for immediate medical care. My condition is still critical and I am without proper treatment as of writing this at 4/17/2015.
Update 8: Filed a complaint with the Arkansas Department of Health. You are encouraged to file a complain as well with them at 501-661-2201 if you are one of the people who were turned away by Unity Health/White County Medical Center’s Emergency Room policy of a $200 deposit.
Update 7: Here’s the link to the interview and the story. I hope this gives those who have suffered the same fate as I have a voice in these matters.
Update 6: KARK has interviewed me! I made mention of some of the people’s comments and made awareness to what was happening. Tune in at 6 tonight to see it. If they put it on the web, I’ll embed it here.
Update 5: KARK will be interviewing me around noon on camera. I promise to create as much awareness as possible for everyone who has been turned away who can’t pay the $200 and told their emergency was not an emergency.
Update 4: Spoke with a reporter for KARK and they are going to have a meeting Monday to finalize and get the ball rolling to do a camera interview and let me share the information about my experience and the others in the comments.
Update 3: KARK has reached out again and I have a call scheduled for Sunday to go through everything.
Update 2: I am getting a tremendous amount of traffic and people messaging me privately about what White County Medical Center did to me, and to people they know. Please, if you or someone you know has experienced this, please leave a comment sharing your story.
Update 1: KARK in Arkansas has reached out to me. They are looking into the resources I provided them.
I don’t like to share much private information about myself or my health, but something so profound and so disturbing has just happened to me and is happening to others in White County (Searcy) Arkansas that I feel as though I need to bring as much awareness as possible about it. Below is a brief story on my experience with what could only be described as a private death panel.
I suffer from a large ailment of issues with my back. Recently in the last year however I developed a bulging torn disc in my lower back. When it first appeared it was painful and I received some treatment for it. I then moved to White County for personal reasons with my wife. We are both on the Affordable Care Act Private Option that is only available in Arkansas. It was a very unique approach to provide medical insurance instead of traditional medicaid. We are both on Ambetter.
On the 13th of April, I aggravated my bulging torn disc somehow by bending down to pick up a 2-litre. I was in extreme amounts of pain. I tried taking my normally prescribed medications already treating my damage in my back but it made no difference. It was a pain I had never felt before. It felt like tremendous pressure. It felt like I needed to crack my back to relieve it, but that wasn’t it at all. I went to the ER (White County Medical Center) in Searcy seeking relief.
When I arrived there was no one waiting so I got in quick. I was seen once by a doctor and he determined that it may be a slipped or herniated disc at this point. They gave me an injection of Demerol and then gave me 4 day prescription of Percocet, Valium, and Naproxen. I attempted to reach out to my doctor the next day hoping for an appointment that week. My doctor isn’t in on Wednesdays or Fridays past noon, so I was given one option of a morning appointment on Thursday or an appointment on Monday. The only person who could take me was going to be out of town on Thursday morning, so I said Monday.
Well, I realized that I was running out quick on my prescriptions given to me during the ER visit (due to me being in constant pain and taking 1 every 4 hours of the percocet and only prescribed 20) and I called on the 16th telling the nurse of my doctor that I’m getting worse (as well as being concerned that since the conditions are getting worse, I will have to continue taking 1 every 4 hours) and that I’m experiencing the things listed where it says seek immediate medical attention. The Nurse said I needed to go to the ER again with these new symptoms. So I had my father drive me as I can’t feel my legs and I’m in incredible amounts of pain beyond what the Percocet is helping with.
We arrived at the ER at around 10pm and I signed in. I told the triage nurse that these symptoms appeared and I was getting worse. She took my vitals and sent me back to the waiting room. 10 minutes later, a man called me over to a desk. Now before this man called me to the desk in my wheelchair I was in, I overheard a person with Thyroid cancer saying that she couldn’t be seen because it wasn’t an emergency and that she would need to pay a $200 deposit if she wanted to be seen. I remember seeing her so distraught over the ordeal and she was frantically calling urgent care clinics that were all closed by that time.
I went over to this man, and he told me the same thing. I told him that I was told by my doctor to come to the ER, but the man continued to say I am not considered an emergency. I asked to speak to a nurse about this, and I told her I was having issues with pain shooting down my leg and a lack of control over my bowels. She continued to say that it wasn’t an emergency that that was happening and I needed to pay the $200 deposit to be seen.
My wife and I were so enraged we left. We came back after we realized nothing else was open to see me. We asked for this policy notice and more of an explanation. We didn’t get too much information other than a letter they have prepared for this. The picture above is a photo of the symptoms I was experiencing that they told me to seek IMMEDIATE medical care for, yet was still considered not an emergency and the letter of the policy with a list of urgent care clinics that could instead deal with me.
As we were leaving, we found out that a nurse who actually works there was waiting for her husband to come by ambulance because he too was turned away. I don’t know what condition he was in, but he too was turned away unless he paid the $200 deposit to be seen.
Republicans back when the Affordable Care Act was placed into effect used to preach about “Death Panels” that would decide who lives or who dies. They meant it for the insurance companies and Medicaid. Through some pretty weird sense of irony, the hospitals are now implementing their own “Death Panels”. If you don’t have money, you are going to be turned away based on a doctor who doesn’t even see you, with information given by a Triage nurse.
This is wrong. This is incredibly incredibly wrong. I have reached out to several news outlets here in Little Rock Arkansas to tell them of this story, and I hope they get back with me and report about this. What would happen if someone was feeling just mildly ill and they go into the emergency room and the doctor thinks they just have a cold, and the person is sent home because they can’t pay $200 dollars and it ends up that person dies because it was something much more severe?