Area Hospitals Aren't Turning Patients Away - And Response (2)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

In regards to Erlanger’s new COO stating other hospitals turning patients away when they cannot pay, I am a nurse and I have worked at all three acute care hospitals in Chattanooga and I have never seen any of these facilities turn any patient away due to the fact of being “private pay.” 

Also, I have seen the hospital business office representative work with the patient and family with payment options on the hospital bill.  

Also, these hospitals accept Medicare reimbursement which means they are required to provide emergency treatment under EMTALA which helps prevent patient dumping in the first place. 

EMTALA is a federal law. I think when a COO of a large business makes a statement such as this, he should be able to back it up with facts. I would like to know where he got his facts from.

Melissa Lewis, RN 

* * * 

Contrary to Ms. Lewis’ assertions that patient dumping does not occur in Chattanooga, all she has to do is read front page headlines appearing less than a year ago in which a local non-profit hospital was under federal scrutiny for violating the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act – not once, but twice.  For violations classified as “immediate jeopardy” – the most severe of EMTALA violations.    

On both occasions, patients were “transferred” to Erlanger.  And investigators, working on behalf of the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services, warned that “the deficiencies are so serious that they constitute an immediate threat to the health and safety of any individual who comes to your hospital with an emergency medical condition.” 

In addition to what has been publicly reported, my wife and I personally witnessed an incident in another ER in which an uninsured patient was stabilized, then quickly transported to Erlanger for “more detailed” testing and admission. 

While EMTALA laws are in place to help prevent patient dumping, it is naïve to assume this doesn’t happen in Chattanooga.  Particularly to Erlanger - the hospital where I work – now on track to provide more than $92 million in uncompensated care to local residents this year.   Coincidence?  I don’t think so.    

Mickey Milita
Apison 

* * * 

I have worked in EMS for 20 + years in the Chattanooga area and yes all of the private run hospitals in a 100 mile radius dump on Erlanger. 

All hospital emergency rooms are required by law to stabilize a patient's emergency condition after that they can transfer to another hospital for continued care. 

I have transported patients from all the local hospital emergency rooms to Erlanger simply because of no insurance.  

Erlanger Hospital's indigent care cost is nearing $100 million for this budget year, show me another hospital in the area that has that size of lose due to indigent/self pay care.  Erlanger turns no one away for medical/trauma care and receives little to none support from Hamilton County. 

David Poteet, EMT-P


Send Your Opinions To Chattanoogan.com

We welcome your opinions at Chattanoogan.com. Email to news@chattanoogan.com . We require your real first and last name and contact information. There is no word limit, but if your article is too long you may lose your reader. Please focus more on issues than personal attacks. (click for more)

Supporting Dr. Mary Headrick

I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Mary Headrick two years ago when she first ran for Congress. I was convinced then and am even more convinced now that she is the best choice for the 3rd Congressional District. Dr. Headrick has degrees in math and computer science, which shows she has a brain and in medicine, which shows she has a heart. She is superbly qualified to serve our ... (click for more)

Architect/Contractor Selected By Erlanger For New Children's/Women's Hospital

HKS has been selected as the architect and McCarthy as the construction manager for a new Children’s and Women’s Hospital at the Erlanger campus on East Third Street. The Atlanta team competed against another Atlanta group for the major construction project. Erlanger officials announced Monday that $11.5 million is being set aside in a debt restructuring for the new $30 ... (click for more)

Westfield Charged In Burning, Torture Of Kitten At Cleveland

An arrest has been made in the case of a kitten who was burned and tortured in Cleveland, Tn. At 12:50 p.m. on Tuesday, Gary A. Westfield, 31, of Cleveland, was placed in custody on a warrant obtained by Lt. Robert Harbison and Detective Matt Jenkins of the Criminal Investigations Division. Westfield was charged with aggravated cruelty to animals, which is a Class E felony. ... (click for more)

Mihaescu, March Win Region 3-A/AA Cross Country Titles

The weather wasn't quite as nice as it was last week, but it was still sunny and warm on Tuesday afternoon for the Region 3-A/AA cross country championships, which were held on a flat course at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. Sequoyah senior Danielle March was the female winner as she toured the 5K course in 21 minutes, 46 seconds to win by almost a minute over KiAnna Queener, ... (click for more)

Boyd-Buchanan Defeats East Ridge 7-1 In Soccer Semi

The Boyd-Buchanan girls’ soccer team has already made history this season, but coach Todd Ledbetter’s Lady Bucs are hungry for more. After winning the school’s first district title last week, they moved a step closer to another championship with a Region 3-A/AA semifinal victory at home on Tuesday. Boyd-Buchanan, the 5-A/AA champion, defeated District 6 runner-up ... (click for more)