When Lora McMahon lost her job in the recent recession, heart surgery was the last thing she expected to face. The 44-year-old Waterbury resident had put herself through school and worked for 10 years as a Certified Nurse’s Aide, following both her mother, a lab tech, and two sisters, radiology techs, into the healthcare field.
|Lora McMahon, center, with Saint Mary’s Patient Financial Counselors: Rebecca Corcoran, Luz Torres, Raylonda Robinson and Dolton James, Financial Services Manager
Her training and experience helped her detect early symptoms, including shortness of breath. “I knew something was wrong but I put my health issues to the wayside,” she said.
When she arrived at Saint Mary’s Emergency Department, her legs were so swollen, she could not walk. But knowing that she was unemployed and without health insurance, she was as worried about the cost of the visit as her health.
“The day I came into the Emergency Department, I asked to speak with someone in the finance department,” she recalled. “I’m a person who likes to pay her bills.”
Lora met with Raylonda Robinson, one of Saint Mary’s financial counselors, who was able to help her secure insurance that not only covered the cost of her visit to the Emergency Department, but also a subsequent tests and her heart surgery this month.
“I can’t say enough about her. She really went above and beyond,” Lora said, noting that when she returned to the hospital for an echocardiogram, she sought Raylonda out to thank her. “Everything went through so quickly. The hospital was very helpful.”
Lora’s situation is not uncommon. According to 2010 data from the U.S. Census, an estimated 11 percent of Connecticut residents, or 384,000 people, are without health insurance. Fortunately, Saint Mary’s financial counselors are able to help most patients secure the assistance they need.
“Our financial counselors help patients get coverage when they don’t have health insurance, and it takes them beyond the treatment they receive here. They can go to the pharmacy and fill a prescription, see a private physician or go to another hospital, if that’s what they need,” said Dolton James, Saint Mary’s Financial Services Manager.
“Charity care is one part of what we do,” Dolton said. “But our counselors’ primary function is to get everyone covered. When patients come into the hospital, we talk to them and help them determine their eligibility based on certain criteria. We can even issue a state insurance voucher the same day. They don’t have to wait days or weeks.”
Following a successful surgical procedure earlier this month, Lora is now on a path to better health. She shared her story to help others who, like her, might delay treatment for serious health problems because they are uninsured. “Services are out there for you and they’re there to be utilized. That helped me in the long run.
For more information about Community Benefits at Saint Mary’s Hospital, visit us at www.stmh.org. [or click here hyperlink to Discover main page]