Medical Opposites in Springfield, Missouri


Cox Medical System

My first experience with the medical field in the Springfield, Missouri area was not good.  I am from Minnesota where some of the finest hospitals in the country are located.  July of 1988 to August of 1989 I was in one hospital or another, one nursing home or another and one rehabilitation center for head injury, for three months.  Those nationally known hospitals found nothing in the many X-Rays, C.T. Scans, and MRI’s, of a fractured vertebrae in the spine.

My woes began at a community health center.  I filled out forms for forty-five minutes (expected) because I was not in their system yet. The CNA walked me back to get my, height and weight.  Then to an exam room so she could get my blood pressure. I was told the doctor would be in within a few minutes – he wasn’t.  After waiting for another half an hour, I opened the door and stepped outside the room.

I asked the first CNA, “Did the doctor forget about me?” That happened to my wife once and so long wait times always concerned me.

The nurse did some checking and came back to tell me that I was next on their schedule, “Just wait and keep the door closed,” I did as instructed.

Finally after waiting another twenty minutes the doctor showed. He felt the arm in various spots as I explained to him as best I could about my left elbow, the circumstances involved and my concern that it was not getting better only worse.  The painful elbow was my reason for being there.   

The doctor showed no interest in my explanation and appeared to be falling asleep.   

I volunteered some info, “The elbow has gotten worse and the pain now goes up from the elbow to my shoulder and neck.  It is not getting better, only worse.”

The doctor ordered X-Rays of the shoulder and neck.   X-Rays were taken and I waited again.  He came in with some shocking news to me.

He claimed that my C-2 vertebrae was fractured but said he wanted to consult with another doctor and the radiologist first… another hour slips by and I knew that I would never be home for my daughter after school.  I sent her text wondering if she had her key, but if not to go to our downstairs neighbor.  I sent that lady text explaining the situation and then my cell went dead.

The doctor returned and told me that if I were to move the wrong way I would be paralyzed for life, “The ambulance is on their way,” he said as the assistant came in with a neck brace.  Now things moved whirlwind-like.

He asked which hospital I’d like to go to and of course I didn’t care because I was unfamiliar with either.

He told me, “The waiting time is shorter at Cox South ER.”

“That’s the one I want then,” I replied.

The ambulance driver and his partner lifted me onto their stretcher with wheels treating me so fragile as though I might break.  Sirens blared until we stopped at Cox South ER. There was a team of nurses and a doctor awaiting my arrival. They treated me gingerly because they did not want me to move my head.

Instead of having me roll over from the stretcher onto the hospital bed they got a blanket under me and lifted me to the bed.  Asked if I could wiggle out of my shirt without too much movement I said, “No,” and it was cut from my body with a scissors. They wheeled me to various rooms for the C.T. scans and MRI’s.  All of that movement occurred after much waiting.

The nurse at the C.T. scan was not about to treat me with kid gloves, “I know you’re not supposed to move, but do you think you can roll over to this mark and raise your arm to this point,” she pointed to a red line.  

“Yes of course…I don’t even think they’re right about this thing.”  I rolled over the mark and raised my arm still wondering what all the hullabaloo was about?

I finished that with ease and was wheeled back to the ER.  Within minutes another nurse with a more respectful and kind disposition came in and allowed me to go to the bathroom – well kind of, she gave me a bottle to piss in.  Being it was more difficult to pee in a bottle than just to aim at the large target of the toilet bowl, I questioned (to myself only) how they could think that holding and going in a tiny bottle requires less movement?  Oh well, I whispered to myself.  I called for a nurse when I had finished.  There seemed to be at least five at the nurse’s station at any given time.

I was concerned and wondered (also to myself) if my uneven walk was preventable all those years ago? Then things rapidly changed.  It was now 8:30 in the evening and the doctor didn’t want to be there, that was obvious.  It was his time to go home I could tell by the gleam in his eye and the signature bag under his arm.  He hurriedly gave instructions to the ER people around the bed.

Humph, apparently there was nothing wrong.   He told me he didn’t think the fracture came from the fall, but that I might have been born with it. Whaaat, I wondered?

But he said, “I want you to continue to wear that neck brace until you see the neurologist.

Shouldn’t the doctors at Cox and all doctors know for certain the condition before saddling the patient with worry and concern and cost?  The extreme costs were brought on only because of the unnecessary neck brace, ambulance ride, all the testing, ER care and a doctor peeping his head in occasionally and finally a taxi ride to my car on the other end of town.

Anyway the doctor at Cox South ER gave me a neurologist’s name, address and phone number written on one of the many papers now in my possession.  He told me to call the neurologist in the morning to set-up an appointment.  He said to wear the neck brace except for shower time until I see the neurologist. He prescribed some pain pills, and out into the night he hurried.

Twelve hours and an ambulance and taxi ride later… I was on my way home.  I followed my compass to lead me back to the main highway because I was somewhat disoriented. The uncomfortable neck brace was worn all the way home but I couldn’t see me wearing it too much longer.

I was home for about fifteen minutes when the brace was removed.  I never did call the neurologist because I was thinking the whole thing was a scam of sorts.

It is now mid September and all is the same except that some of my “Disability Income has been lost, no not lost, for I knew exactly where it went. I was totally displeased.

Once it was discovered that my only insurance was Medicare…I magically healed. They sent me home saying that that fracture must’ve been there all my life.   Quack – Quack – Quack.

But still, Stephanie would need a doctor.  I began searching on my own but was unable to get a doctor anywhere and was now, very concerned.   Though I absolutely abhorred the non-treatment with twelve hours of wait time received by Jordan Valley Community Health Center and Cox Hospital South I was afraid that I had no choice, other than them, for our health care.  

Through a series of phone calls to this clinic and to that one it became more and more clear that I was a lower class patient not deserving of immediate care because the only insurance I had was Medicare.

“Only Medicare for insurance?  Our doctor’s are all booked so you will need to call this clinic in Ozark,” I was dealing with them in Nixa the town where I lived.

Cox, Ozark referred me to another number because their clinic was also full.  The number was to a placement specialist.  I was able to say what I was looking for and was even asked if I would prefer a male or female doctor.  

The lady gave me a number to call and said, “I will connect you now…”  

The only thing was the clinic doctor we decided upon was not available.  I asked how long the wait would be and was told the end of November for that particular doctor.  So I asked to be seen by another who was more immediately available…November 24th was the best they could do and as this was the first week in September I would continue trying to find another doctor but just in case I wouldn’t be able, I took the Nov. 24th appointment.

Then, in October I began getting bills.  Monday Oct. 21 – $27.19, radiology services, Tuesday Oct. 22, another $27.09, Wednesday Oct. 23, $191.96, Thursday Oct. 24 I did not check the mail.  I know those are insignificant amounts, but Medicare was billed more than $7000 and all for a pain in my elbow which never was addressed.  

Today 11/12/2015 after I was told to pay the last amount and that would be it…no more payments and for something I had to go to another medical system to take care of I get another bill for $191 and $72 both due on the 26th of the month.    Medical corruption in Springfield is alive and well – with the doctor’s office workers at COX HEALTH.

                                                                                Mercy Medical

My friend, Joyce, offered to get me set up with her doctor.  I balked at first but finally acquiesced. This was a weekend, but Monday she would make a call to him, give him my phone number and he would call me.  I had my doubts seeing as how terrible my experience with Cox was.  Her doctor by the way, was with Mercy Medical system.

Surprise – surprise!  Mercy Clinic called me Monday afternoon and though her doctor was not receiving new patients until November, I could get in to see a doctor/nurse practitioner the following week.  I was happy.

Joyce drove me to the clinic right up to the front door and then went to park the SUV.  I went inside and right to the counter with nurses/office workers.  I proudly told the lady that I had an appointment and that this was my first time here, “I’m from Minnesota,” I said.

She handed me some forms to fill out and told me to go over to the phones on a counter and give my info into the phone.  I would be asked various questions and then I would be entered into their system -ta-daaa!

Within ten minutes I had been taken back to see the doctor.  I was given the height-weight check and brought into the exam room and my blood pressure was taken.  A few more minutes passed and the doctor showed up, happy and greeting me nicely.  Carrie L listened intently to my concerns and prescribed some pain meds and gave me an exercise sheet to follow.  That alone was more than Cox ever did for me.

But then Carrie asked, “Tell me about your daughter – does she have a doctor?”

I replied that she didn’t. And Carrie immediately said they had a pediatrics department upstairs, “Stephanie is only twelve so she can be seen or treated there. The pediatricians are excellent.”

I told her, “Wow, the treatment here reminds me of my clinic back in Minnesota.  And Stephanie can go right upstairs, well that’s wonderful!  With this one visit I got us both set up…thank you so much.”

Then she went on to tell me that the clinic would be calling to set up an appointment for me with Orthopedics.

“Wow.”

The difference between the two was like good vs. evil and obviously the good was Mercy.   It is  evident by the choice of names even…the greedier more money driven Cox was self named  whereas the more caring and organized, Mercy, chose a name telling their idea of providing health care.  I’m sure the rates will be similar, the difference being, with Mercy one is not charged for unneeded things and you are also treated for what ails you.  

My prescription would only last me a week, but when we spoke on the phone to get the appointment the person at the other end realized that and my appointment had been set up to coincide with the end of those because I got in the day after at nine-thirty in the morning.

Joyce and her husband Mel drove me up to the front door of the therapy bldg; Mel and I got out while Joyce parked the car.  Now this is the only complaint I have concerning, Mercy...when I went to check in I was told I had to go to the back of the building.  Well Joyce just got there and Mel had mentioned that she had to get the car and drive me around to the back.  While waiting another lady came walking by, grumbling about their sport’s medicine being around back.  Well that problem is easily fixed.  When Mercy calls to confirm an appointment they could just mention that the Sport’s Medicine is in the back of the Therapy building.  Small problem solved.

Joyce parked in the available handicap parking near the front door of that back entrance.  We went in and took the elevator to the second floor and walked into the quiet, clean , comfortable and orderly waiting room.  I gave the receptionist my name and she told me my address.

“Have a seat.  The doctor will be right with you and sure enough, “Steve?”

“Oh wow – that was quick!” I went on explaining my terrible experience with Cox.

She brought me into the exam room and gave me a wrist blood pressure machine…128 over 90, higher than it used to be, but still good enough.  Then Dr.  Landon Hough came in and almost immediately began talking of the X-Rays and explaining that there were no fractures but there was extreme inflammation.  The elbow was froze immediately when the nurse sprayed some freeze from a can and then the kindly doctor shot the needle in the upper part of my elbow.

“How often do I need to come back for other shots or exercises?”

His answer slayed me, “Never, you’re done.  This should take care of it. Wait two to three days before beginning the exercises.  If you have any problems give me a call,” and he handed me his card.

Thank you wonderful Mercy.  In other words Mercy runs away with all incoming patient awards.   Thank you for your ethical and upright way of doing medicine.

 

 

 

Steve Richie

Hi folks, Two lives in one lifetime. The first me, lived to age thirty-four. That Steve was overly confident and oozing with pride. Then, on a record heat-setting day (107º) here in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and western Wisconsin, a one car near-fatal wreck left me in a two-month long coma. I emerged much as I was before minus certain physical capabilities, but my mind seemed mostly in tact. The crash and its effects did not change me (I emerged a happy individual) but the deeds perpetrated against me in the ensuing months from my wife of sixteen years scared and humbled me as I was dragged down with nothing left by my wife who now had guardianship over all of our accounts. And neither would she allow me to see our kids. She took everything out of, "Our" names and changed them to her name only; then would not allow me to our home and divorced me. I was angry, but no more. I spent half of 1988 and more than half of 1989 in hospitals, nursing homes and a three month stint at a head-injury rehab center where I was being taught how to re-enter society as this different person, that I didn't know. I was not able to return to my previous line of work, a self-employed decorator, you know, painting and paperhanging. It was a physical job which required much dexterity, finesse, and a good grasp of numbers. I returned to the beginning, school, but on a community college level. One of the instructor's liked my writing and I began focusing my attention on that. I attended classes at, "The Loft," A Place for Writers in Minneapolis. While there, a classmate of mine was having her friend from New York, a CBS executive, to her home for the holidays and asked me if she could do a critique on a couple chapters of a book I was writing, "A Day I'll Never Remember" and I obliged. When she returned to class the following Monday she told me that the exec wanted a ten-page synopsis of the book for a possible movie; I was excited. After obliging for that also, I never saw or heard from her or the guy from CBS. Next thing I knew I was watching a movie called, "Regarding Henry" starring Harrison Ford and the scenes of therapy were exactly like what I went through and had written about. Regarding Henry - could've been my story except that, "Henry" got his head injury from a gunshot and his wife stayed with him throughout the ordeal. Coincidence I'm sure, though, the therapy scenes entailed what I described in the book so I always wondered..... My hope, my dream is to bolster our income for my daughter and for myself. I am and have been raising this beautiful, talented little girl who was diagnosed with autism at age two, since 2006 singlehandedly. I divorced her mother the same year following complaints that I spent too much time with our daughter. However, Stephanie began school with no need for special education. She has been reading since age four and understanding what she'd read. Stephanie maintains straight "A's" on her report card, has published two books (through school) and has been selected as an, "Honors" student for seventh grade English. My ex moved to New York to be closer to her sister and has been remarried now for a number of years. Well, that's only a snippet of my sixty-one years and I would like to thank you for reading, thank you.

3 comments

  • Happy New Year, Steve. I have been mostly MIA for a year, dealing with problems of my own, and will be ever-so-slowly “making the rounds” to catch up with what my online friend have been up to and how their lives are going in 2016.

    Today must be “lousy doctor day” – I just left a scathing comment on PicnicWithAnts – my reaction to her horrible experience, not about her (of course!) Vitriol spent, I’ll spare you the long comment and say simply this – it makes me FURIOUS to hear stories like this (first part, not second).

    I’m glad to hear that, other than your lousy experience with the first doctor, things seem to be looking up for you – at least a bit.

    Know that my prayers are with you and your beautiful daughter. Much love to you both.
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    -ADD Coach Training Field founder/ADD Coaching co-founder-
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Like

    • Nothing wrong with being MIA for awhile because one usually returns with a new and livelier way of looking at things. I am confident you will get around to your caring nature soon. You know, an attack such as you went through takes a long, long time to recover completely.

      I’ve never recovered from being falsely accused but I was rudely reminded of it when I tried to rent this apartment. Though my credit report was “good” I still had to get a cosigner on this lease (how embarrassing that was being that there was never a mark against me until I brought that evil woman here from the Philippines).

      If I could afford it, I would hire a lawyer who knows about TBI and that felony charge would disappear, I’m sure. But as it is, I realize that I just have to live with that gnawing disgrace until I’m dead.

      On a brighter note, the sun is shining today and we are out of the deadly cold of Minnesota. Stephanie loves her school and she now has many friends. She had her first school dance and a friend of ours made her a short dress as part of her costume for the Halloween party the week following the dance. All in all…Life is great! Be well.

      Liked by 1 person

      • So sorry to hear that her hatefulness is still following you – but happy that you found a cosigner (had to do that once myself – so I get it).

        Crappy that it always comes down to lack of funds, huh? Culpable or not, the rich can hire lawyers who “erase” all kinds of things (or prevent them from becoming a matter of record) – the rest of us must learn to live with what was done to us or find another way around them.

        I love it that God has seen fit to place Stephanie in your care (or vice versa, lol). I know that caring for my little 1-yr. old dog TinkerToy has made the single biggest difference in my struggle to recover from all that happened in 2014. I can only imagine what it would be like to have a “Stephanie.”

        I’m glad to hear that she is doing well. You can take credit for some of that, eh?

        First school dance & short dresses – whew! They do grow up quickly, don’t they? Hold on to your hat – the teen years are upon you!

        From your lips to God’s ears about returning “livelier.” Right now it is still about returning at all. So much to put back in place still, I am working to keep overwhelm at bay, make some important decisions, and put many good habits back in place. I thank you sincerely for your empathy.
        xx,
        mgh

        Liked by 1 person

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