Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The last straw (or why I finally switched medical supply companies)

Two blogs in one day! Unheard of! But I had to share...

So, some of you may have heard a little rumor that I'm pretty peculiar when it comes to Dax's care. It's a nasty little rumor and not entirely true... I just expect him to be treated by each and every medical personnel and support person and stranger as if he were the center of the universe. And since he pretty much IS the center of the universe, that shouldn't be such a stretch.

That being said, as completely irritating and obnoxious as I may be at times, I always try to see both sides of the issue. Admittedly, the "other side" is almost always wrong, but I do try to look and understand. I'm an understanding and patient person. I am. I AM.

Enter the two medical supply companies that provide Dax's medical equipment, etc...

Company A is an oxygen supply company. They are there to supply our portable O2 and O2 concentrator, cannulas, dots to hold the cannulas in place, pulse oximeter, and pulse oximeter probes.

Company B supplies the rest of Dax's medical equipment, namely his nebulizer, suctioning machine, g-tube, g-tube pump, and related supplies.

The people who work at both companies are really nice. I like talking to them. I talk to them a lot, actually. Much more than I should have to over the course of the past 9 months.

Why? Well, the oxygen company is consistently out of pulse oximeter probes, cannulas, dots, and, a time or two, have actually been out of oxygen. I repeat, OUT OF OXYGEN.

We just spent over a month and a half with no new supplies because they were out... with promises that the supplies will be in on Monday, then Wednesday, then Friday, then next week, then the week after... Their side of it is that their supplier is yanking them around. I get it. I understand. I've waited patiently. I'm over it. My son needs his supplies.

Moving on to Company B, also known as "the releaser of that straw that broke the camel's back."

Company B has always had issues with getting us our shipments on time... We would get them, it would just be a few days after we actually ran out of our previous shipment. After a few months of me making repeated phone calls we finally got some surplus of everything, so that when the shipment came a little late we had extras to tide us over. See, problem solved.

Except that this company supplies Dax's formula for his g-tube, and after a few months of sending it, they refuse to send it anymore because "insurance is refusing to pay for it." They say they will send it to us but we'll have to pay out of pocket because they're losing so much money on it. They end up sending it a couple of more months as they "appeal," but end up refusing again because "insurance is refusing to pay for it." So I finally call the insurance company to find out why they are denying our claim... And they never received a claim for the formula. They have no problem paying for it, and aren't sure what the issue is, although they feel the supply company was probably noncompliant with getting their billing done on time and they were trying to bill me rather than have to eat the cost of the formula themselves. They offer to contact the supply company for me to iron out any issues. Within a day of me calling the insurance company everything managed to get cleared up. Amazing.

Oh, and did I mention that two weeks after Dax DCed from the NICU, we had his Mic-Key button (feeding tube) switched to a Mini One button, which is just a different, smaller type of feeding tube. The doctor sent an order to Company B with the new size and type of g-tube so we could get supplies for it. Month 1, we still get Mic-Key supplies... So I call. Month 2, Mic-Key. I call. Month 3 I call before the shipment goes out to make sure they have it right. we get Mic-Keys again.

Noticing a pattern yet?

I have our pediatrician send in another order for the Mini just to make sure they have everything on file, and I call again to make sure it's all arranged. And we get more Mic-Keys.

Keep in mind that he has in the same Mini button in his belly that was placed there in December. That thing was getting NASTY.

So I call again in June and remind them we need a Mini, and also update our address for our next shipment since we'd finally gotten in the new house. It's all in the computer, and they promised it would definitely be ordered correctly this time. A week later, there's a box sitting on the porch of our OLD house. It was a Mic-Key button.

So I make another phone call. I've officially lost my patience. I think I had earned the right. I was mad. Three days later, we have the correct sized Mini button on the front steps of our new house. Ahhh, progress. All it took was a little good old fashioned b*tching :)

Unfortunately, however, all the Mic-Key extension tubing we have been shipped over the past 9 months that actually fit our old Mini button does not fit the new Mini. So I call the company and ask for a few extra extension sets so we'll be able to hook Dax's belly up to the feeding pump at night just in case anything happens to the one extension tube we have that came with the new Mini. They put it in the computer and promise to order them for us.

Then, of course, the cat ate our extension tubing. You know, the only extension tube we have, and the one that's necessary to feed our son at night. I rig it up thinking we'll get our tubes in the mail sometime early this week.

And then today happened. That proverbial last straw...

I called to see if they had sent off our extension sets yet, and do you know what they told me???

Excuse me while I paraphrase, but this is pretty spot on...

"Ms Sheppard, I talked to the boss and she isn't going to order your extension tubes until she orders next month's supplies, because she says she's already WASTED TOO MUCH MONEY SENDING YOU THE WRONG SUPPLIES FOR THE LAST 8 MONTHS."

In conclusion to this ridiculously long story, we have now switched all our medical supply needs to a new company. I hope they're better. Not sure how they could be much worse. I'll keep you posted!


JenniferNe said...

Hey I am just a lurker out here. I have been following your story for a while. I think I picked it up from Myspace originally. Anyway this post just ticked me off. Just who in the heck do they think they are? It is not like you were calling a department store saying I would like to get new curtains. You are ordering the supplies to keep your child alive!!! Call the Better Business Bureau. Maybe you can prevent another family from having to deal with them! Good Luck!!

Ryans Mama said...

That is so upsetting. You don't order medical supplies because you love having a collection of gt buttons and supplies to decorate with. How annoying. I am so glad that you were able to change companies. Also I am so happy to hear that Dax is doing so great. I couldn't believe that he climbed up those stairs! Guess he needed to figure out how to do the dangerous stuff to show his little brother!!

ski said...

OMGosh Molly! I honestly do not think I could have lasted 8 months. NO WAY! I was furious when the O2 company we had closed over Memorial day weekend and did not notify me they were going to be closed for the holiday. I flew off the handle telling them that they were NOT the freaking Post Office or any other Government run establishment and if they wanted to be closed they needed to notify folks or THEY would be paying for our ER visit when we ran out of O2!! OH I am just fuming!! I know you are!! Lord help the new company and may they be on thier toes!!

Tiff-E said...

I agree with the other person who says call the BBB on them. I'm thankful our O2 people were on the ball about sending stuff. I'd have it in usually 1 business day at my door. I had many other issues with billing and soooo many people that just didn't do their job. That was one of the most frustrating things is how many phone calls we end up making and things we have to deal with (on top of everything else!) just b/c people can't do their job! People who have micropreemies need personal secretaries! ;) Sorry you've had to go through so much crap with them. I'm so glad to hear Daxton is doing great. Congrats on hitting the 37 week mark! : )!!!

Leanne said...

Okay, I have so many things to say about this. Unfortunately none of them are appropriate to post on a public blog. ;)

However, I was thinking.... When Tyler gets here and things calm down, you want to go into business together running our own medical supply company. I happen to know of a GREAT programmer that could write us some GREAT software so that our customers would never have any of the problems you have experienced. :)

Chris & AnnMarie said...

Oh my goodness, you are way too nice to put up with these people for so long! And your sarcasm cracks me up! I love reading your posts!

We had a terrible O2 company too. When Coy first came home, they sent us with an apnea & pulse ox machine that were broken. So, in the middle of the night when we realize neither are working correctly and call our company, they tell us that they could send someone out the next day.

It was literally our first night home, and we were freaking out! After my husband complained big time, they sent someone that night finally.

But, their equipment never seemed to work correctly and they would never send us our supplies either. I would also get calls from *literally* the dumbest individuals on the face of the planet that happened to work at this place and I would have absolutely no idea what the heck they were talking about. Anyway--long story short--you've put up with enough and I hope your new company is much better!

And, congrats on full term! Whohoo! I am so excited for you. You are not even going to know how to react when you take your baby home this time. It's going to feel like a piece of cake! Cant wait to hear about Ty's arrival!

Ann Marie
Coy's mom