I lost my wonderful mother who was sick.I blame for-profit health care

I lost my wonderful mother who was sick.I blame for-profit health care

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John Rogers

A year ago, my mother died in a for-profit hospital in southeastern New Hampshire. Just after 10pm, a doctor called me to tell me that a nurse had found her, probably in cardiac arrest, and that they would move her body.

It all sounds routine and impersonal, but it makes sense because I’ve never met the doctor and she doesn’t know my mother.

To make matters worse, my mom died alone; earlier in the day, another doctor told us that she was recovering from a recent urinary tract infection and just needed time. She and we didn’t get that time.

I know this story is not unique. But it must be told to help shine a light on the flaws in a system that has reached breaking point, turning health care into a profit-over-people industry where cost-cutting, price hikes and inadequate services are top issues.

Large companies seeking acquisitions, mergers, and consolidations helped create and exploit the crisis.

mother john rogers
John Rogers’ mother died at a for-profit hospital in North Hampshire.

John Rogers

One such company is Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) Healthcare, which owns more than 183 hospitals and approximately 2,300 “sites of care” in 21 states and the United Kingdom.

It operated three hospitals in New Hampshire, and unfortunately, my mom only ended up running one.

HCA’s $67 million acquisition of Frisby Memorial Hospital in Rochester, New Hampshire, in March 2020 drew close attention, especially from the hospital’s staff.

Twelve of 14 primary care physicians reportedly left the hospital’s practices due to acquisition-related layoffs. foster’s daily democratAccording to reports, thousands of patients were left without care.

As one physician and former president of the NH Medical Society described it: “…what I saw was that they were trying to serve their shareholders and that was more important to them than what was good for our community. “

Dr. James Feseher, a lifelong family physician familiar with HCA cost-cutting, writes in ” portsmouth herald Following the Frisby acquisition, this explains how “loss leaders” in hospital services (often diagnostic medicine) are demanding a “squeeze,” i.e. cutting support staff while asking doctors to do more in less time matter.

This squeeze deprives primary care providers of essential support at a time when these critical cogs in our health system are already in short supply.

HCA ceased labor and delivery services in Frisby last year, despite promising to continue operating until at least 2025 unless it could prove it would cause losses, NHPR reported.

The services were no longer “financially viable” (a common phrase in HCA contracts), and the company had moved funds to other services to satisfy the state’s requirements.

The closure adds to a growing and troubling trend here and nationwide, forcing expectant mothers to plan longer trips or move closer to well-equipped hospitals. “Maternity deserts” have become a reality across the U.S.

My mother spent her entire adult life in New London, New Hampshire, a small rural town with a university and a 25-bed hospital. A lifelong school teacher, in her seventies she experienced a series of episodes of pain that required hospital visits.

New London Hospital cared for her like family and saved her life more than once. During several trips to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, 30 minutes north, she received specialized care.

In December 2022, she developed symptoms of a urinary tract infection and was taken to the New London emergency room. At 2 a.m., the doctor prescribed intravenous antibiotics and asked her to be admitted to the hospital. But there are no empty beds.

After calling hospitals in the area and finding out they were also full (with coronavirus and flu patients, News 9 reported), they ended up choosing Frisbie. At 4 a.m., she was lying in the back of an ambulance bound for Rochester.

In the United States, local community hospitals are dying because a new MRI machine can cost more than $1 million; radiologists earn an average of $360,000; nurses may be “traveling” and earning $10,000 a month; Medicare negotiated lower bills.

In such hospitals, human connections are lost, caregivers know patients and their families by name, and empathy and responsibility replace profitability.

When I arrived at Mum’s intensive care unit in Frisby, she greeted me with a smile. A kind nurse was helping her eat. Things looked good: Her vitals were stable, and she looked just a little confused, a common UTI symptom.

I quickly realized we were far from home when the caseworker came to fill out admission forms and told me that if I wanted to be involved in my mom’s care, I would have to produce legal documents.

Even after I provided documents from my mother’s attorney, the fight continued. It took the hospital almost a week to give my sister (a nurse in Texas) access to the patient portal so we could know what the doctors were looking out for on a daily basis (since I never met them).

After my mother was transferred from the intensive care unit, the staffing shortage problem was exposed; I rarely saw the head nurse. Over the Christmas weekend, many hospital staff appeared to disappear.

My mom lost the ability to communicate and started shaking her head. When my sister and I were skeptical about antibiotics, we felt like the doctor dismissed the idea. A few days later, when they stopped using the antibiotics, my mom regained consciousness.

However, because she was too weak and deemed unable to eat safely, she was given a feeding tube. But the nurses had a hard time placing the tube, the X-ray technician had to visit three times, and my mom was in pain.

Understaffing of HCAs has been widely reported. The Service Employees International Union, the country’s largest health care worker union, released a report in which 80 percent of members surveyed had witnessed health care shortages jeopardizing patient care.

After HCA acquired six North Carolina hospitals in 2019, patients and staff reported poor outcomes due to staffing shortages, NBC News reported. In New Hampshire, an emergency room nurse at Portsmouth Regional Hospital filed a lawsuit against the hospital and HCA, claiming she was wrongfully fired for complaining about understaffing that resulted in a death.

Meanwhile, HCA continues to earn billions in revenue, and investors are recommending its stock for 2024.

There are many disturbing details about our experience. I believe staffing shortages are one of the causes of many of the problems we face.

But the lack of empathy in our experience is still heart-wrenching. Perhaps this is the most frustrating and scary aspect of running a hospital as a for-profit business.

A few days before my mom died, the hospital moved her to a room without monitors. “She’s doing better,” they told me. But she didn’t look any better and wouldn’t even drink her favorite coffee.

The night my mom died, I called the hospital and found her nurse who answered the phone. She found her unresponsive and after trying to wake her up, she touched her forehead. It’s very cold.

Three weeks after arriving in Frisby my mother was gone – a kind, old, sickly lady, worthless to those seeking profit.

Patients, families and communities in New Hampshire and across the country deserve better care. State and federal health departments, nonprofit health care regulators, health care professionals, and law firms must ensure that we all receive it.

John M. Rodgers is a freelance writer and former English teacher.

All opinions expressed are the author’s own.

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