Barabara Antonelli was strapped onto a gurney and breathing through an oxygen mask when her doctor’s receptionist bounded up to her ambulance and said: “I hate to bother you, but could you give me the $5 co-pay?”
Barbara later told reporters, “Luckily I had a $5 bill. I gave it to her.”
Workers at Staten Island Physician Practice (SIPP) were appalled when they learned of what had happened to Mrs. Antonelli, calling it “insane” and “crazy.”
“It’s not our policy,” said Sally Cohen, center administrator for SIPP, who was surprised that someone would worry about payment on the spot instead of billing the patient after the fact. She said she will investigate what happened and address the situation with the employee. “We’re all in this for medicine. If it is an incident, I will take care of that.”
Mrs. Antonelli’s son, Thomas, rushed to RUMC after she was brought there and was stunned when he heard the story from his mother.
“She’s on a stretcher and they’re worrying about five dollars,” he said, pointing out that if the receptionist was acting against policy, some of the other workers could have stopped her on her way out the door. “It’s insane. When I go there [over the weekend], I’m definitely going to go in and find out who that woman was.”
What an embarrassing failure of common sense. Despite the incident, Barabara is now feeling better and has no plans to switch doctors.