The worst and best of Christmases

charity christmas

This was supposed to be the best Christmas ever.

  Charity Care

Charity care at Emory Healthcare

We are with you

When treatment can't wait for coverage

Making sure patients have what they need

We knew how to cure him

Jen and Bill Arnold were going to celebrate their first anniversary and, three months later, welcome the arrival of their first baby. What looked like a glitch—Tom being downsized from his job—had turned into a new job paying $50 more per week. Enough that Jen could keep working on her degree and stay home with the baby.

Then everything changed. Jen suddenly became lethargic and confused, struggling to talk. The next few days were a blur: an ER doctor trying to explain cerebral hemorrhage and the need to get Jen somewhere with expertise in high-risk pregnancy, the helicopter vibrating as it lifted into the air, then down again on the roof of Emory University Hospital Midtown. Hours after Jen arrived, unconscious, the two-pound baby was delivered by cesarean section in an effort to save his life and, perhaps, help his mother. Jen never saw him. Three days later, with Bill’s consent, she was taken off life support. 

For the next three months, Bill spent as much time as possible in Emory Midtown’s neonatal intensive care unit, stroking his son’s tiny hand through openings in the incubator. The nurses—guardian angels, he called them—paid special attention to the baby. Bill could barely think beyond the loss of his wife and the miracle of his baby. 

In the hospital’s patient financial services office, however, other guardian angels were working on his behalf. Insurance coverage from Bill’s previous job had ended December 15, while coverage from his new job had not begun until January 1. Jen’s cerebral hemorrhage, the air flight, the cesarean, all had taken place during the gap. His former and new employers tried to ensure that their insurance plans covered as much as possible. What was not covered, however—about $20,000—was classified as charity care and became Emory Midtown’s contribution. Bill was immensely grateful, but the money was not what he—or the doctors and nurses—were smiling about when he left the hospital holding his healthy son. 

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