WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY- Asking that we conceal her identity, a Luzerne County mother accused the parent company of Wilkes-Barre General Hospital of squeezing her for money.
"Mary" said she was four centimeters dilated and had just received an epidural when her bedside phone rang. On the other end, a woman who identified herself a bill clerk, according to the mom. The collector was seeking credit card information from patient to settle a $500 deductible.
Refusing to hand over her credit card number, "Mary" said her husband eventually had to leave her bedside and go to the billing department to pay up and fend off the bill collectors.
This situation happened several months ago.
Since then, a labor spat has intensified with hospital nurses at odds with hospital administrators.
Claiming they've been assigned billing tasks, such as wheeling outbound patients to bill collectors, the union representing nurses has spoken out about the policy they've called unethical and a line crosser.
Nurses claimed earlier this week hospital human resources workers questioned some of them about their participation in a rally last week.
Wilkes-Barre General Hospital is owned by Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based company.
Emails and a phone call were placed to the hospital's public relation's department at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday. Jim McGuire, spokesman, wrote later in the evening, in part, "because your story runs in just a couple of hours, we do not have adequate information or time to look into this matter."
The email continued, "Our registration process may include a visit to a patientís room to
discuss estimated cost of care, however, under our policy patients
should not be visited during active labor."
In Mary's case, a visit occurred during active labor, she said.
She told us she did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation against family members she says work at the hospital.
The I-Team is awaiting a response from Wilkes-Barre General Hospital administrators concerning this alleged breach of policy.