Letter: Unhappy medical encounter raises questions

Graphic by Lori Deaton

Is Mission Hospital incompetent? Unkind? Greedy? All of the above?

I recently received a discounted (according to Mission billing) $221.60 bill from Mission Hospital for a doctor from an echo test I received. It showed the bill was fully my responsibility. This was despite the fact I had already paid Mission billing a discounted rate for my out-of-pocket share of the cost. My Medicare Advantage plan showed that they had paid the bill in full for $63.50. When I called the billing office, first I had to navigate through prompts to pay my bill in full or arrange payments. Eventually, I was able to reach someone in billing, who said to ignore the bill. I was concerned that perhaps this was a way to generate money rather than an honest mistake.

The day of my appointment, I was told to come to Mission Imaging for a CT scan at 1:50 p.m. I was given a paper with that time at the urologist’s office that scheduled the appointment, as well as from the phone-call reminder I received. When I arrived on time, I was told that my appointment was for 1:20 p.m. I was shocked, but relieved when they said they would still fit me in.

I waited a half hour to be called back. The technician brought me to a room to prepare me for an IV. When I asked if there was a bathroom, the technician became angry and said we passed three on the way. The employee then decided to bypass me for another patient and told me to wait in an area nearby their office and that somebody would be with me shortly.

I didn’t at the time understand that the technician had decided to punish me for showing up late and then asking to use the bathroom. I thought that I was waiting for someone to take me back to another room for my scan.

The person taken after me fainted in the room, which caused quite a stir. I was still unsure if I was waiting for somebody to see me or had been forgotten about. When I finally saw the technician come out for a minute, I asked if someone was coming for me, and they ignored me. The next time I saw that employee, they said someone would.

Turns out that the technician was the someone. The employee laid into me for being so inconsiderate of the patient who had fainted, said they hoped I never would faint, that I was rude, showed up late, and why didn’t I use the bathroom when I was waiting for half hour to be called? I said I was worried that they might call me when I left to use the bathroom and thought it would be better to wait as I typically do when I have an appointment such as this.

I do not want to fight with you, I implored. I was impatient, I admit, and also annoyed, as three weeks prior, I received a similar test and was now having to mostly redo the test because my first test did not fully scan my pelvis (it was an abdominal exam, so done correctly by a different provider).

I was left quite angry and hurt, asking: Is Mission incompetent? Unkind? Greedy? All of the above?

In March, I received a letter of apology from Mission Health. At the same time, my response to the letter is that I see the problem as larger than one employee and a scheduling error, but one that is systemic in nature and not one that can be fixed by reprimanding one individual.

Unless they can get to the why, I don’t hold out much hope for improved health services.

— Ian Rudick

Editor’s note: Xpress contacted Mission Health spokesperson Nancy Lindell with a summary of Rudick’s points, but she did not provide a response for publication.

The letter of apology from Mission Health provided by Rudick admits that a team member made a scheduling error and that employees were working to prevent such problems in the future. The letter continues, “Our expectation is that all of our team members partner effectively and provide care in a kind and appropriate manner. We apologize that you feel that this did not occur. While the labor laws of the state of North Carolina do not allow us to share details of actions taken regarding our employees, we can assure you that we have followed our policies and processes in order to ensure this expectation is being upheld. …

“Mr. Rudick, we strive for every encounter at any of our Mission Health facilities to be a positive and healing experience for our patients, and we sincerely apologize that we did not meet your expectations. The leadership and staff will continue to learn and work on these opportunities you have shared with us.”


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Letters
We want to hear from you! Send your letters and commentary to letters@mountainx.com

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.