Sen. Franken asks MNA RN Jean Ross to testify about nightmare experience with Accretive Health

29 May

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: John Nemo, 651-414-2863 or john.nemo@mnnurses.org

ST. PAUL (May 29, 2012) – Before Jean Ross could open the door to the Fairview Ridges Hospital room, she heard the sound: Her daughter was weeping and shaking, unable to calm herself. Ross, who had spent more than three decades as a nurse in the Fairview system, much of that time in the ER, feared the worst as she stepped inside.

“I was sure the doctor had stepped into the room while I was out taking a bathroom break and delivered devastating news about my grandson,” said Ross, a longtime Minnesota nurse and one of the presidents of National Nurses United, the nation’s largest union of professional nurses.

Jean Ross, RN

Imagine Ross’ surprise when she learned the reason that her daughter was so distraught had nothing to do with the status of Ross’ grandson, who was 13 months old at the time and had been rushed to the ER earlier that night with what turned out to be encephalitis – an acute inflammation of the brain.

“My daughter explained to me that while I was gone, a woman had slipped into the room and asked her if she wanted to pay all or a portion of her bill right now,” Ross said.

The incident was one of many that have come to light in recent weeks after Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson released a scathing report about debt collectors badgering patients and family members inside Fairview hospitals.

Ross, who spent 35 years as a nurse at Fairview Southdale Hospital in Edina, has been asked by Sen. Al Franken to testify at tomorrow’s U.S. Senate field hearing inside the Minnesota State Capitol. The hearing, which begins at 10 a.m. in Room 15 of the Capitol, is being conducted to examine if current federal laws effectively protect patients’ access to care and privacy.

“It was a nightmare experience,” Ross said of the 2010 incident. “What’s even worse is that the same thing happened to my daughter again a couple of years later.”

When Ross’ daughter gave birth to her third child at Fairview Ridges’ hospital in February 2012, another debt collector entered her room unannounced and unwelcomed, asking Ross’ daughter to pay all or a portion of her bill.

“My daughter did not need that type of stress right after giving birth,” Ross said. “Nor did she need to be harassed by a debt collector when she was a nervous wreck worrying about her 13-month-old son inside the ER. What happened in both instances was inexcusable.”

The fallout continues from the Attorney General’s probe, which highlighted Fairview CEO Mark Eustis’ close family ties to Accretive Health, the for-profit company Swanson blamed for the collection practices. Eustis, who was instrumental in bringing Accretive Health into Fairview’s hospitals, has a son who works for the firm.

Late last week, Fairview’s board severed its ties with Eustis, voting not to renew his contract.

Ross said she hopes her testimony to Sen. Franken helps ensure the type of behavior exhibited inside Fairview’s hospital rooms never happens again.

“As a mother and a nurse, you never want to see a patient or family member who is already in pain or distress be harassed like that,” she said. “I understand the financial side of running a hospital, believe me. But there’s a right way and a wrong way to handle things. And I don’t think I’m alone in saying the way Fairview handled things was wrong in every sense of the word.”

Formed in 1905, the Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) represents more than 20,000 nurses in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. MNA is also a founding member of National Nurses United, which represents more than 170,000 nurses across the United States.

Please contact MNA’s John Nemo at 651-414-2863 or john.nemo@mnnurses.org to arrange pre-hearing media interviews with Jean Ross.

3 Responses to “Sen. Franken asks MNA RN Jean Ross to testify about nightmare experience with Accretive Health”

  1. Art As Social Inquiry May 30, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    It happened to me for something minor in the ER. I was and am insured. While in a room waiting for a doctor, I was greeted by a woman with a laptop on a rolling desk. I had been in business for many years and wasn’t shy about speaking up.When asked if I wanted to pay my bill (what bill?) now or later, I flat out said later. My attitude was get out of my face.

    It has gotten to the point where we question whether we really need procedures or are doctors finding things to bill because somebody has insurance. This is a terrible state of affairs.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. MNA Daily NewsScan: May 29, 2012 – MNA RN Jean Ross asked to testify about nightmare experiences with Accretive Health, Cancer in America « Minnesota Nurses - May 29, 2012

    […] RN Jean Ross, one of the Presidents of National Nurses United, has been asked by Sen. Al Franken to testify tomorrow about her nightmare experiences with Accretive Health inside Fairview Ridges Hospital. We’ll be Live Tweeting and […]

  2. Recap: MNA, NNU RN Jean Ross Leads Way at Special Senate Hearing on Debt Collectors in the ER « Minnesota Nurses - May 30, 2012

    […] nurse and National Nurses United co-president Jean Ross testified that her daughter was harassed by Accretive while in the hospital with her seriously ill infant son. Ross left her grandson’s room for a […]

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