Thursday, October 10, 2013

My Nightmare at Montefiore Hospital

                By Rafael Martínez Alequín
                                                                                                                                   October 1, 2013

Ms. Susan Green-Lorenzen, R.N.
Senior Vice President Operation
Montifiore Hospital
111 East 210 Street
Bronx, New York
REF: Kraus Room #438 (Red Zone)

Dear Ms. Green-Lorenzen:
IN Liu of the “Survey”

On August 1, 1998, I was a patient at Montifiore Hospital in the Bronx. Dr. Fred Stern discovered I had cancer after a blood test. Dr. Greenwald performed an MIR and concluded that DR. Stern was correct.  I was diagnosed with gastric cancer. Dr. Kaleya performed the surgery. While I was a patient at Montifiore, I was treated well by the entire staff.  I applaud their dedication. I have recommended the Montefiore Hospital to neighbors and friends.
On August 26/2013, I was taken to the Emergency Room at 10:15 am. I was vomiting blood due to internal bleeding. It was not until approximately 4:00 pm that I was taken for an endoscopic test. When the test was completed, I was admitted into the hospital. It was about half an hour later when “transportation” brought me into the room where I was assigned. Here the problems began:

1-The nurse assigned to put me in bed frantically looked all over for a pillow. She could not find one. She told me: “there is no pillow.”  Then she said: “People steal the pillows.”

2-In the room  were three more patients, the patient across from me had a machine monitoring his heart. The sound from the machine was extremely loud and prevented me from falling asleep.

3-I was not allowed to get out of the bed due to the pain in my legs. During the first three days, the linen on the bed was not changed, nor did I bathe, brush my teeth or shave.

4-On Thursday (Prior to my discharge on 8/31), while I wore an IV on my left hand and on my right arm (a tube for a blood transfusion), a young woman brought my food tray I asked her if she could help me move some of the apparatus to make room for the tray her reply was: “I don’t have to do that is not my job.” She left. I proceeded to move some of the objects and the blood tube came out. There was blood all over the bed. Frantically, I pushed the emergency button and no one responded. I screamed for help and a nurse came and reattached the tube. She told me that someone would come to change the linen. Indeed a nurse came, but it was four hours later.

5- I had requested to be relocated to another room on the second day, due to the constant noise, day and night in that room  (438 KRAUS ON THE RED ZONE). I called the Patient Advocate and two young women came. I explained the conditions in the room and that it was difficult for me to sleep. Nothing was done on my request.

6-Finally, on August 31st, I was told I would be discharged. The first thing that came into my mind was I’d rather die at home than at Montefiore.

A very kind male nurse named Lancelot gave me two prescriptions (issued by Dr. Jaya Saxena, ( “miscellaneous medical supply Misc” #05M4LK 37). When I went to my local pharmacy, they filled one and they told me that there was nothing on the second prescription.
I showed this to Dr. Stern and he told me to throw the prescription away. Then I called Montefiore CMO, and the customer representative named (Tanya) explained to me that the second prescription was for physical therapy.

 The purpose of this communication is to explain my experience with Montefiore Hospital.  Contrary to my experience in 1998 I cannot recommend this hospital to anyone. Especially poor people. Many friends who visited me, (some fellow journalists), and family feel the quality of Montefiore has steadily decreased. I am planning to make this account publicly in the New York media and for sure on my blog: I would like Montifiore to address these issues.
 It is my hope that Montefiore provides the patients assigned to Kraus4 improved services.

Rafael Martínez Alequín

As of  today, October 10, 2013, I am still waiting for Montefiore's respond. As soon I get their respond, it will be post on


Recently, I was in another major NYC hospital for 8 days for serious surgery. I was moved in and out of four different rooms. I never saw the same nurse more than 2 days. It seemed each nurse worked a 12 or more hour shift. I needed training before I was discharged but it was hard for me to learn the skills I need when a nurse only had time to wake me for training at 5:00am. 

The American people and society have a deep problem. The major institutions like Montefiore Hospital have become cost containment, no longer health centers. I don't blame the nurses or staff. The problem is a society based on profit not the needs of people. The current healthcare 'reform' law makes no attempt to get at the real and deeper problem. Sad today in the US the slogan must be "Don't Get Sick!" 

 Rafael:  I read this before and it clearly explains your experience as a patient at Montifiore Medical Center.  It is also evident that their aftercare service to you were also lacking as you attempted to access physical therapy.  This hospital is huge and powerful.  It would be very hard to move them in a positive direction, but you must led your voice be heard about what you went through as a patient. I am surprised that you did not mention what goes on in their emergency unit.

i sent your story to my wife and this is her comment:

In this day and age when hospitals are trying to do more with less, the quality of patient care suffers. This is an unfortunate example of a quality care gone awry.
I would hope that Montifiore will accept this review of poor quality and respond to Rafael with a strong concern they should have for what he experienced and with concrete steps they will be taking to see that his experience is not continuing to happen to others who are now being treated.

  Suzanne Nicoletti-Krase, RN, EdD

(The following e-mail reply from Montefiore Hospital  is posted today, along the comments by followers of As of today yourfreepress folowers are: 622,824.

Dear Mr. Martinez Alequin:
I hope my letter finds you feeling well, and I am glad to have had the opportunity to meet you personally and offer my assistance.  I am very sorry your experience in Montefiore was so distressing, but I am grateful for your feedback.
It is your right as a patient to lodge a complaint about your care, and it is Montefiore’s obligation to investigate and respond to you in a forthright manner.  It was my privilege to coordinate an investigation and reply with my findings.  My investigation concluded on October 9, 2013.
I asked the Administrative Nurse Manager (ANM) to review your care on her unit.  She performed a nursing record review and interviewed the nurses assigned to you during your stay.  Your ANM stated:  “There is no excuse; only an apology for service which could have been provided at a higher standard.” 
One nurse recalls your conversation about pillows. She states it was high census time in the hospital; pillows were on order for all units.  She does not recall any remark about theft.
Some monitors are noisy and I am sorry the noise disturbed your sleep.  Although hospitals are continually working to provide a quiet environment, certain sounds are inescapable, and those sounds always seem louder in the relative quiet of the night.
Your nurses reported they assisted you with bathing and linen change, but also acknowledge that your impression is the measure of their service to you.  They regret not meeting your expectations.
I asked the Manager of Food Service to discover and speak to the tray passer you mentioned.  He spoke to two individuals on your behalf.  Tray passers are not permitted to do anything more than deliver the tray, but always must respond with courtesy and state they will alert the patient’s nurse to come and assist.
Two members of the Customer Service staff visited you on August 28, 2013, and helped you obtain the assistance you needed so you could shower.  They reported to me you specifically asked them not to pursue a room change and they reassured you they would continue to be available for you.
I am sorry for the lack of clarity in your prescriptions, and as you know, I did my best to facilitate satisfactory appointment times with physical therapy. I am staying in touch with Montefiore’s  Care Management Organization to learn how I can further assist you in ensuring convenient appointment times.
I cannot erase your impressions of your stay with us.  I can attest to our commitment to you and our communities to provide the highest quality health care with compassion, as well as  the desire to constantly improve.
I remain at your service, and you may call the New York State Department of Health at 1-800-804-5447 if you disagree or are dissatisfied with this response.

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