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Hospitals and Problems of Caring for Indigent

I read the article about UCI Medical Center (March 14) and just couldn’t believe it. I realize that a large percentage of their patients can’t pay, but that isn’t all the problem. I can’t imagine how all these great minds can’t look at the situation and see some of the things untrained people see.

We are the consumer. Their rates are outrageous, starting with the emergency room. Other hospitals have had to put together programs to keep costs down and attract patients. People are shopping around more because our insurance companies make us. Most of us have to have pre-admission authorization. If you call up now and ask their charge for a procedure, you won’t get an answer. If you know that no one will be paying, who cares about charges?

When these indigent people come in for treatment, they don’t just treat the ailment. They keep them in the hospital for days just running a tab.

They are a teaching hospital so you can’t object to all these doctors and students poking and looking, but there isn’t a discount for putting up with that. You pay top dollar. You get expensive and painful tests performed because these would-be doctors need to practice. I agree they need to learn, but costs should reflect that.

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Another concern is attitude. A lot of hospitals in our area, central Orange County, have developed customer relations departments. At UCI a lot of the personnel aren’t trained in this area. To attract more consumers, you have to update your product and see what your competition is doing. A couple of shining stars in our area are St. Joseph and Western Medical Center-Santa Ana.

LINDA ROWLAND

Garden Grove


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