Letters to the Editor for 03/01/10

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Billing came before care at hospital


I'll begin by saying that my concerns in no way reflect the “'hands on” care that I received while a patient in the emergency room at Twin County Regional Hospital. The health care staff was professional and I received excellent care.

Recently, I sustained a deep cut to my finger. Knowing that I would need stitches, I went to Twin County’s emergency room.

I was quickly admitted because my hand was really bleeding. I had just sat down on the stretcher when a financial counselor came in.

I was informed me that my insurance, Anthem Blue Cross, had “verified,” but I had not met my ER deductible — not a surprise, since I never use the ER.

She then said that my remaining deductible payment was in excess of $670 and it needed to be paid NOW before leaving the ER.

I was floored! Have all hospitals resorted to harassing the very people who are paying customers?

Is it now acceptable practice to meet a financial counselor prior to meeting your doctor, even when you've nearly cut the end of your finger off?

The counselor was insisting that I pay my deductible now — before I had even been evaluated by a physician. I am literally dripping blood on the floor and she is requesting payment!

Would it have mattered had I come in with a heart attack instead of needing stitches?

Evidently not, because when I asked her that very question, I was told that it would have made no difference.

If you truly value your customers, especially the paying ones, something needs to change.

The next time I need emergency services, I'll try to remember to stop by the bank first and pick up a certified check for my insurance deductible.

I'm just not so sure that I'll being making it payable to the same hospital.

Martin L. Fender



Hospital responds to patient's concern


At Twin County Regional Hospital (TCRH), we are proud to serve our community by making health care accessible to everyone. To ensure that we are able to continue meeting the health care needs of our community, we rely on receiving payment for our services from patients and their insurance companies.

Emergency Department patients are escorted directly to a treatment room until all beds are occupied. Once the patient enters the treatment room, they are immediately evaluated and receive an appropriate medical screening.  After the screening is completed, the Emergency Department physician or nursing staff permits the financial counselor to interview the patient.

We understand that patients come to us in a time of need. One of the areas of need we provide, after the patient has stabilized, is patient education. Through this process, the financial counselor informs our patients of the co-pays and deductibles. Many patients do not realize their insurance requires a co-pay, deductible or the dollar amount that is the patient’s responsibility. As a courtesy to our patients, our financial counselors verify the patient’s insurance policy, prints out a copy of their benefits and explains their co-pays, as well as any deductibles. Treatment is never delayed or denied due to the patient’s ability to pay.

Our patients will always receive emergency medical care. Insurance information will be discussed after the patient has been medically screened and permission is granted by medical personnel to the financial counselor to interview the patient. All patient medical records contain documentation to support the patient’s continuum of care throughout the visit to ensure the highest level of care is provided.

The health and well-being of our patients is our top priority.

TCRH encourages patients to request the Customer Service Department with any issues as soon as possible during their visit in our efforts to provide outstanding patient care.

Martha A. Cole

Director of Marketing & Development

Twin County Regional Healthcare


Delegate's APCo vote questioned


As a constituent of Delegate Bill Carrico, I would appreciate an explanation why he voted against HB 639, which proposed legislation to regulate APCo's rate increases instead of allowing them the pleasure of implementing an increase whenever they want bigger profits.

Is it because the bill was initiated by a member of the opposite party?

Come on, the people of Southwest Virginia want our representatives to vote what's best for us, regardless of party.

Carrico's vote for postponing the increase for a few months did nothing to abate the careless disregard of APCo for its customers.

Sheila A. Key



In defense of divorce lawyers


This is in response to the Feb. 10 article, “Mediation an alternative in divorce."

I do not know Brian Lindberg. He obviously does not know me or how I and most of my local colleagues practice law.

I have been practicing law in the Twin County area for more than 21 years. A large part of my practice is custody and divorce law.

Mr. Lindberg asserts that, "Lawyers tend to feed the anger [of the parties]."

I start every case with the consideration of settlement outside of court. I represent my clients with compassion. I help them identify and solve their legal issues. Many of my divorce and custody cases do settle out of court.

Mr. Lindberg asserts the high cost of lawyers and the court system. I question the source of his information, as this does not reflect my experience in our area.

Our juvenile and domestic relations courts offer free mediation to parties in custody, visitation and child support cases.

Mediation is not a viable option when the parties are not on equal footing, such as in an abusive relationship.

Sometimes people make agreements not realizing the negative consequences of those decisions. This is where the lawyers are helpful.

I know how to present someone's case in the most favorable light when they are unable to do so for themselves. I can explain the law of Virginia and how it applies to my client's situation.

I can see the long-term effect of decisions made today and make sure my client understands those decisions. I have helped many clients fix the consequences of ill thought-out or misinformed mediated agreements.

Lawyers are not the greedy, uncaring people Mr. Lindberg portrays. We are a viable alternative for people with problems.

Karen L. Loftin