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Not pleased with treatment
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Dear Editor:

Being an outsider (not from Effingham County) I never really understood why no one ever had anything good to say about our community focused hospital in Effingham. After talking to the CFO, I now totally understand.
Recently my husband had to have two outpatient treatments at Effingham Hospital and while the staff and all other people we were in contact with were extremely nice and tried to be helpful; when I was referred to the CFO about pricing, I was totally floored by his manners and his attitude about the hospital. The very first thing he told me was that Effingham Hospital was a retail service and he could set his prices wherever he wanted, and for him 100 percent mark up was very reasonable. We have no insurance and I was questioning the total charge for a unit of blood (a little over $700 — this includes some of the testing). The CFO compared a trip to the hospital to “buying a guitar.” He said we pay 100 percent markup on a guitar and do not complain and should not complain about his charges as he is a retail service, too. 
I do not think most people think of a hospital as a retail service and if indeed it is a retail service the hospital should publish a price list so that we can compare. I did compare and while he feels he is in line with other hospitals in the area, he is actually high. We were charged from $6 to $24 per pill for prescriptions that cost us $4 for a monthly prescription — but as he says he can set his prices anywhere he wants. He also informed me that no one pays their full bill anyway — I still haven’t figured that one out, because I would love not to have to pay my full bill but it looks as though I will, and gosh our bill was only a little over $6,500 for two units of blood and a “scope” procedure — really quite a deal, and the bills are still coming in.
I asked Mr. CFO if friends of ours could donate blood and possibly get a little deduction on the cost of the blood, he said that he “could not take the chance of getting bad blood in his hospital” so that was out of the question.
When I told him we would appreciate any help he could give us, he did inform me of a program for poverty level — based on a sliding scale to help, and when I told him we did not qualify as we worked and paid our bills but just didn’t have enough left over for the high cost of insurance (over $1,000 per month if we could get it, which we could not due to pre-existing conditions) he was nice enough to tell me that he would reduce our bill by 20 percent if we paid in full. Now please tell me how that is helpful to anyone already stretched beyond the breaking point.
After my dealings with Mr. CFO I found him to be one of the rudest and most arrogant people I have ever talked to, he could give lessons to collection agents on how to be unreasonable and humiliate people. My advice to anyone needing to go to the hospital, with or without insurance, choose your hospital carefully as Effingham Hospital is not the community minded hospital that they would have us believe — they are part of the problem with our health care cost today. Don’t help them continue to rob the public in the name of the community.

Vikki Gerrald