An elderly patient was broken out of Royal Inland Hospital, according to his son, and is recovering nicely back home in Las Vegas.
And, Dariusz Mogielnicki added, a medical bill of around $200,000 was waived.
RIH administration appeared to rebuke both those claims while maintaining that privacy rules prevent them discussing a patient’s details.
Lucjan Mogielnicki, 78, has been home about a week and is recovering from what he and his son say was a horrendous ordeal at the hospital.
“If not home, I be dead now,” said the elderly Polish immigrant in a phone interview on Monday.
The elder Mogielnicki drove his RV from Las Vegas to Kamloops with his female companion last summer. On Aug. 29, he was admitted to hospital with an abdominal aortic aneurism, underwent surgery and was placed in ICU — all without medical insurance.
By Oct. 1, he was still in ICU and his son, Dariusz, grew alarmed that the bill had reached $192,000. Dariusz also received an email from a hospital staffer that seemed to suggest his father would remain in hospital until the bill was paid.
Royal Inland administration said there was no such plan.
In fact, medical staff tried to transfer the patient to Las Vegas but medical transport fell through when the University Medical Center of Southern Nevada discovered the patient wasn’t insured.
RIH staff was unwilling to release the frail man from ICU without proper medical care in place.
The stalemate continued until Oct. 20, according to Dariusz. He said that’s when his father’s transfer to another ward gave him the opportunity to wheel his father into an awaiting RV and make a dash for the border.
With a stunned laugh at Dariusz’s version of events, Marg Brown, IH health service administrator, said privacy rules prevent her from discussing patient details.
The drive got precarious, said Dariusz, when they ran out of oxygen for his father about 100 kilometres outside Las Vegas. He was able to call the family doctor and secure an emergency prescription for oxygen before the tanks were completely drained, he said.
Dariusz also said that his father claimed a hospital administrator approached him while he was still in hospital to say his bill had been waived.
“I’m just going by what my father said,” said Dariusz. “I haven’t had a phone call or letter, so I don’t know.”
Again Brown said she couldn’t discuss details of specific patients but she did clarify Interior Health’s policy about collecting unpaid medical bills.
“There’s a process that we follow to recoup our expenses,” she said. “We try to work with the patient and family to determine an agreeable solution. After somebody’s discharged from RIH, Interior Health will follow up with that patient either by mail or by phone.
“And if that does not result in payment, then the patient’s account is filed with an international third party collection agency and the credit bureau is notified.”