Monday, May 5, 2014

Information age - or lack thereof

One of the more annoying aspects of my life sans Maggie is the lag in getting the information throughout the system Maggie was part of for so many years. At least a couple of times a week since she died, I get some call or reminder about something  from her wide world  that requires me to call and explain that she has passed away. I really don’t think that should be my job.
Initially, of course I had to and that was bad enough. In fact Maggie was supposed to be seem by a social worked on the Tuesday after she passed away as we were applying for In Home Support Services, something I had finally gotten around to starting. That Monday was a holiday, so I had to make sure the lady knew and didn’t show up at our house. I left a voice mail over the weekend and she called me early Tuesday expressing her sympathy and thanking me for taking the time to call. That was fine, in fact it was very nice. However, a few weeks later I received an official notification denying the request for services and it left me cold.
This morning I had to deal with the hospital from the last couple of days of her life. We never even received any bills in the past because in addition to our private insurance, Maggie has medi-cal which meant we didn’t have to pay co-pays etc.  Of course this time it didn’t work. It was jarring to see the bill outlining the services they provided in the ICU. But in addition to the services, It showed we owed a few thousand dollars as a co pay. Of course that is not correct. I called and explained that Mary Margaret had passed away during this stay and that this co-pay should be submitted to medi-cal. The woman told me medi-cal turned it down because they could not identify the beneficiary (Maggie).  I said well, that’s on you. You have all the information and it will have to be resubmitted.”  There was an impatient clucking from her side and she said, “Well Mary… “ I stopped her right there.  “I am not Mary. I told you Mary is deceased.”  At that point she offered to “call them for us” to see what the problem was.  I said simply “Thank you ma’am.”  I did not say, “That is your job. Don’t make it sound like a favor to me.”  I think that was implied.
 For the past several weeks it has been the Home medical company. They were great throughout her life. It was one of the few parts of the machine that actually worked like clockwork. Someone just needs to turn off the clock now. First it’s the billing that keeps coming and I am repeatedly told to disregard it. (Same reason as above) When they start threatening collection, I stop disregarding. I believe I actually spoke to the right person this morning.  We shall see.
Worse than the billing, though, is the continuation of the automated calls checking to see if the “oxygen user” is using the equipment at the same rate.  We received these calls throughout her time using the oxygen, but it’s really time they stopped now. Considering this same company came and picked up all the oxygen equipment three days after Maggie passed away, you would think they would know that things have changed; but somehow this part of the system was never notified.
 I have clicked off on them five or six times, but last night I decided maybe it’s time to deal with it. Of course it’s an automated call so you have to go through all the steps. They “verify” that this is the O2 user on the phone – and yet it wasn’t – and once the machine is satisfied with that, the voice gets friendlier –as if to say “ok patient, you and I are close friends. Here come the questions”
 First question, “are you still using the oxygen equipment prescribed by your doctor?”
 I respond NO. 
It was as though I shocked the automated voice. The friendliness in the voice disappeared and it was as though I was being chastised by this machine. The voice told me sternly that a representative would be calling in the next two to three business days. 
 Oh God. Please don’t.


  1. Oh, god. Does it never f'ing end? I am so sorry, Sally. I imagine even humor isn't appropriate for this bullshit. I'd apologize for the profanity, but I think it's necessary. I am just so sorry that you are having to deal with this.

  2. You really couldn't make this stuff up.
    I have been down a road like this, and it took years for it to stop.
    A long, long, long time from now, humor (black humor at least) will help. You, and beautiful Maggie, are in my thoughts every day.

  3. As always you create a bridge to an unknown and unfamiliar place for many of us. Thank you.


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