Things have been pretty quiet here on our blog for the month of February. That’s because we went on a most waited for vacation. Unfortunately, while I was away, I ended up in the hospital.
The best way to share this story is to share with you the letter I sent to Air Canada, Expedia.ca and the horrible hospital.
When I say horrible hospital, it was deceiving when you arrive, you see the building looks beautiful. State of the art. The rooms looked more like a resort than a hospital, but what happens behind those doors, well let’s just say if it happened in the United States, Canada or most first world countries, the lawsuit payout would put you on permanent vacation.
I’m going to remove only the names of the specific staff from the letter, besides that, you are going to see the way we were treated. Harassed, threaten and held like a prison when what I needed, was care.
This is going to be a long blog, I apologize for the length but the detail is important.
This is the letter.
February 24, 2019
On February 17th, 2019, while on vacation I began to have extreme abdominal pain. I was taken to the clinic on the resort where I was seen by a Doctor.
It was decided that I needed future medical care and was sent to the Hospital (hospiten bavaro).
Before leaving the clinic a claim for care and payment was set up with our insurance company to cover blood work, x-ray, urine analyses and IV.
When I arrived at the hospital, I was taken back into the emergency care center and seen by a doctor who stated she felt I needed an ultrasound. My husband spoke with the insurance company who agreed to pay for the test.
Three hours after arrival, while waiting for the results from the ultrasound, a man from the front desk came back and stated if they did not receive payment in six hours that I would not be able to stay in the emergency room. He stated that it was against company policy and I would have to provide proof of payment to stay.
We explained to this man that the insurance company had agreed with the testing and was willing to cover the cost and I was willing to give him the insurance company name and claim number( he already had them, they were on the papers from the clinic).
He insisted that we had to pay $3000 US dollar deposit to stay and would not take no for an answer.
We explained to him several times that it was Sunday and our bank was closed and we could not transfer the money until the banks were open. He insisted that we must pay the bill and would take only a Visa Card Payment. He then stated if we paid the bill, they would admit me for further testing, and we would receive the credit payment back to our Visa Card immediately once the insurance company paid the bill.
We told him we did not bring that credit card with us and that we did not have that much cash on us. He then again stated that we had only a few hours to come up with the money.
At this point the doctor was asking for a cat scan, suspecting possible blockage in the bowel, appendicitis or complications in the kidney, all three which if not treated could be fatal.
I was now at the point where I was in excruciating pain and I could no longer walk or stand alone. We again repeated that we had insurance and they had agreed to pay for the testing.
He repeated that they could not wait for payment and it was against their policy for me to remain in the emergency room.
I stated at this time that I would pay the bill but would leave to go back to Canada on the next flight. He informed us that the hospital would not give me medical clearance to fly and I would not be allowed on the plane to go home for care.
Leaving us no choice our, our friends came to the hospital and put the bill on their credit card.
It was now confirmed that I had kidney stones and had one passing through the Ureter and a Cat Scan was indeed needed to see it’s location.
The insurance company again confirmed acceptance and allowance for testing and admission to the hospital and had agreed to pay the cost.
I was soon moved to a room and admitted to the hospital. Soon after the scan confirmed the location of the stone and size and I was continued on pain medication and IV fluids.
While on the unit I was visited several times by the doctor who kept me on pain medication and IV fluid.
The nursing staff was clinic. There was no attempt to try to communicate with me as I do not speak Spanish. They came to the room only when it was time to check or change an IV and to administrate medication. When I tried to walk the hall, which is what I as a nurse would have done with my patents as gravity and fluids are the best way to help a patient pass a kidney stone, I was told I was not allowed out of my room and to stay in my room.
Later that evening I was brought bottles of water and told to drink. A few hours later I noticed the IV bag was leaking. It had covered the night table, floor, and phone with water. I paged the nurse in, she changed the bag and left the water on the desk, phone and floor.
With the lack of concern and communication I was getting, I used the only towel to clean the desk and dry off the phone.
At 2200 I paged the nurse as I was getting tired and my pain was increasing. She informed me I had to wait an hour for medication. I told her I was tired from being up all night and was going to go to sleep. She left and I fell asleep. An hour later she came in turning all the lights on in the room and the hall.
At that time for the reason I can not explain, she decided that she was going to change my IV from my left hand to my right hand. The IV was running fine, but I let her do it as the communication was impossible. She then gave me pain medication and left the room with all the lights on.
I waited thirty minutes for her to return, when she did not, I paged the nurse again. This time another nurse came to the room and told me to go to sleep. She spoke English. I explained that all the lights had been left on and it was difficult for me to get up as I was still in a great deal of pain.
She turned off the lights except for the hall and told me to go to sleep. I told her I was asleep, and they had woken me up. She turned and walked out of the room. With no choice, I got up and turned off the hall.
When morning came, I had several nurses come in. One doing blood pressure, one hanging medication and another changing my bed. I asked each one if I could have a towel to have a shower. Each said they would get me a towel.
After an hour and no towel, I walked down the hall to the nurse’s desk to ask for a towel. The girl at the desk did not speak English and found someone who did. They asked me what I needed, and my room number and I was told again to go to my room and stay in my room.
An hour later, I still had no towel and was forced to shower with the towel I had cleaned the IV fluid off the bedside table and phone with. No towel ever showed up.
The doctor came in soon and decided to discharge me from the hospital. Soon the nurse came in and shut off my IV fluid. I asked her to remove it from my arm. She said she had to ask the doctor and would come back.
Minutes later the phone rang in my room and it was the clerical office. The women on the phone told me that my insurance company had not paid my bill and that they would need, first 3600 more US dollars for my bill. I said I will not give you another 3600 US dollars. I have insurance to pay for my bill. She then recanted and said it was maybe 500 or 600 more.
About an hour later, I am still hooked up to IV and she came to my room and told me that I had to pay the bill. I told her I wanted the IV out of my arm, she said no. Then I told her I was a nurse and I was being discharged and that she was to have the IV removed or I am a nurse and I can do it myself. She left the room after stating that she would have the nurse remove it, but I was to stay in my room.
Before leaving she blamed everything on the insurance company stating that they had not paid the bill.
Another hour goes by, we called the insurance company, they had not received the bill.
At this point, my friend said she will just pay the remaining of the bill. She went done to the clerical office with my husband and there is no bill made.
The girl went to the back office to get the bill made and my friend came to get me. I came down and the bill was ready, another 653.62 US dollars was owing.
Before I would agree to pay any further money, I wanted to see my medical clearance and my medical information. While I am reading the papers, the clerical girl is placing her hand on the pile so I can only remove one paper at a time.
We paid the bill to find out, I had not been medically cleared to fly and the clerical girl then informed us that I would have to come back to the hospital before I left the country to get clearance.
At this point, I refused to come back to the hospital. She then stated that I could see the doctor at the resort.
We called the insurance company and told them not to forward payment to them, the bill had been paid. We were informed by the insurance company, they still had not received a bill and when they did, they would not forward payment to them, for me to file the receipts when we arrived home.
After returning to the resort, the Doctor saw me and gave me my medical clearance as she could see that I was safe to fly and am now having to follow-up with my own medical team.
I would also like to inform you, I spent the rest of my vacation in fear of having to return to the hospital.
On that note, I would like to say that the care from three doctors, was exceptional.
I would also like to recognize the staff from The Impressive Spa and Resort for their expeditious arrival at my room to get me to medical help.
The nursing staff, on the other hand, does a good clinical job, but in my many years of nursing, I have never seen a patient treated with the lack of respect and compassion I received. I felt like I was a prisoner instead of a patient. The lacked to provide personal support for me as the patient was a disgrace to the nursing profession.
I might also add that I was horrified to see a hospital, threaten to refuse care and threaten to hold back medical papers for someone to return to their home.
This was shameful and a disgrace to the medical profession.
Please note, when we arrived at the airport, the medical clearance that we were refused to be given by the hospital was never asked for by the airline.
I realize by sending this information to you that it can not change the trauma I experienced in the hands of this hospital staff, but I am hoping by doing so that future guest to the Dominican Republic in need of care will not experience what I did.
When we were leaving the hospital we spoke with other people who were experiencing the same thing we were.
Upon our return from home, the insurance company stated this is common in this country. Doing farther research on TripAdvisor we read multiple stories of this type of horror and worst.
The best way to describe what we went through is extortion, harassment, and illegal confinement.
I have been to twenty-two countries in thirty-four years. This is the only one will never return to.