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Lisa Rausch at Denver’s Rose Medical Center is a poor Supervisor of Case Management.

Call this my case study of complaining about Twitter, part two. As you might recall, it took complaining on Twitter to get customer service out of Telekom, but in the end, I became happy, and, after having a second problem resolved, Telekom is rapidly moving off my list of companies with customer service issues.

Now I actually do not like to publicly air all of my complaints—although to many of you this might come as a surprise.

At this juncture I am extremely frustrated with one Lisa Rausch at Rose Medical Center in Denver, Colorado. I am singling her out because she is ignoring my emails, although over all I find it hard to believe that Rose Medical Center is one of the United States’ top 100 hospitals, a feat advertised on the hospital’s website:

Colorado’s only Reuters 100 Top Hospitals: National Benchmarks winner. This prestigious annual award means that patients at Rose hospital are more likely to receive reliable, efficient care at a reasonable cost with high satisfaction.

If Rose Hospital is above average, then I hate to imagine what hospitals that didn’t make the list are like.

So here’s the back story: in September my father was admitted to Rose Hospital for heart surgery. By all accounts the surgery went well. The hardest part, for me, is being 5,000 miles away. I’ve been calling regularly and talking to my mother. Unfortunately the news is not all good, but I will redact any of the story after October 12, 2010, because it is not germane to why I am upset with Rose Medical Center.

You see, the morning of October 11, my mother visited my father at Rose Hospital. In the afternoon my sister went to visit him, only to discover that he was no longer there.

He had been moved from Rose Medical Center with nary a warning or phone call to my Mother.

My Mother was reduced to calling his primary care physician the next morning, October 12, asking, “Where is my husband?”

I cannot imagine any worse way for anybody to learn that their loved one has been moved from one hospital to another than showing up in the hospital room and finding it empty, or being stopped by a nurse in the hallway to be informed that that their loved one has been moved, but without any information as to where.

Given that the rest of my family is immersed in the details of my father’s care, while it is more of an abstraction for me, I decided to pursue and investigate this bizarre action by Rose Medical Center. Given that I didn’t know where to start, I started with Twitter—complaining about the hospital’s actions, which resulted in somebody from the hospital contacting me asking me for details.

I wrote a note to this person – the most important paragraph stating:

Surely somebody could have called my mother and told her where my Father was moving–actually, they could have called my Mother and told her that they were going to move him in the first place. This is a very basic thing to do. It is, in fact, I would hope, human kindness and empathy at work.

Initially I was impressed. It did not take that long for somebody from the hospital to respond to my Tweet, and for her to respond to this note informing me that it was being investigated and that “I’m going to look into it, and will have someone follow up with you shortly.”

Now I don’t know about you, but shortly, would to me, indicate about a week.

I waited 13 days, sending several reminders, getting no response, before Tweeting again.

Magically, within hours of my Tweeting, I finally got a response from somebody—one Lisa Rausch, the Supervisor of Case Management at Rose Medical Center—who wrote what appeared to be a cookie cutter response with appropriate details plugged in—she responded to the empathy part, agreeing “that your mother should not have been reduced to calling a doctor and having to ask where her husband is”.

The response to the substantive part of my complaint, about the lack of communication was particularly mealy-mouthed:

My department is responsible for informing all parties involved in our patient’s care, of the discharge plan as it develops. Family is indeed part of the “parties involved”. I have addressed the importance of clear, explicit communication with my staff to our patients and their family members being involved in all aspects of discharge planning.

Unfortunately for Lisa Rausch, I don’t believe anything has changed. Given that my complaint was about the lack of communication, the fact that it took her 13 days to get back to me only signals to me that “the importance of clear, explicit communication” is not something she actually takes to heart.

I imagine that the addressing of this communication issue with her staff consisted of them standing around the coffee pot, each person with a steaming cup of coffee, and her saying something like, “Guys, we messed up and should have called this guy’s family. I didn’t realize that there was a complainer in the family—fortunately the complainer in Berlin, so he won’t be stopping by to complain in person. Be more careful next time.” Everybody left this coffee pot pow-wow with a still full, steaming hot, cup of coffee.

With this in mind I wrote back to Lisa Rausch, telling her that I wanted more information, “I would really like to know what has actually changed at Rose Hospital to prevent this from happening again,” which can be distilled into two key questions:

  1. What has changed to prevent this type of incident from happening in the future?
  2. What are the consequences for the individuals involved should an incident like this happen again?

Given that the answers to this question might be (commercially) sensitive and inappropriate to answer via email, I’ve even suggest that I would be more than happy to schedule a meeting with her for the next time I am in Denver—with several possible dates proposed.

She’s ignoring me.

So much for the comment by Kenneth Feiler, President and CEO of Rose Medical Center, in the press release announcing the 100 ranking:

“At Rose, every person on our staff is obsessed with patient care.”

5 comments to Lisa Rausch at Denver’s Rose Medical Center is a poor Supervisor of Case Management.

  • All I can say is “UGH.” We had horrible communication problems when my dad was in the nursing home and it usually took either my aunt or me freaking out in person. Good luck.

  • While I am sympathetic with your situation I would speculate that the response you received is less about lack of desire to address your situation and more that person you are talking to trying to avoid a HIPPA violation, which if taken to the extreme, could result in her taking up residence in a prison cell.

    Unless you are specified as a designated party that can receive information, you will get ignored by all hospital and medical staff until they are certain you are allowed to have information by being informed by the patient or their designated representative (in this case, your mother) that you can have information.

    That said, you are correct that your mother should have been notified when your father was moved to another location, either inside of the hospital or outside of it.

    Keep in mind that when dealing with people in the medical profession, their not giving you information or not resolving your concerns about a family may not be deliberate obstruction, but may be addressing concerns outlined in US federal law.

  • MT – It’s frustrating that one must make a scene. I think the medical profession is used to compliance.

    Cynical Queer – I can be vaguely sympathetic about worry over violating HIPPA if, and only if, my question was patient specific. At this point I have two vague, general, questions that I want addressed–nothing specific to my Father’s case or to the case of anybody I do not know. Further she did email me in response to my initial issue–although she spoke to my mother in the middle, with specific identifiable details. That said, her non-response to my generic questions is offensive and she is unprofessional at this stage. I have no evidence that she’s read my email, responded to my general concerns, or even gives a damn about patients in general.

    I suspect that my scenario of addressing the staff was exactly as I imagine, they stood:

    around the coffee pot, each person with a steaming cup of coffee, and her saying something like, “Guys, we messed up and should have called this guy’s family. I didn’t realize that there was a complainer in the family—fortunately the complainer in Berlin, so he won’t be stopping by to complain in person. Be more careful next time.” Everybody left this coffee pot pow-wow with a still full, steaming hot, cup of coffee.

  • Michele J

    How terrible of them. It could have been that he was “moved” to the mortuary, imagine. I think email is convenient for you but much too easy for them to ignore. Maybe a registered letter to someone higher up in the chain?

    • Funny enough, Ms. Rausch *finally* wrote back to me today!

      Seriously–less than 20 hours after the blog post went live.

      It’s so strange that the only time she ever takes the time to write to me is when I complain in public about the hospital. It’s annoying that it takes complaining in public.

      It only reinforces the impression I have that she never quite understood my original complaint about the lack of communication…