Looking for a miracle


Hospitalist Patricia Haibach specializes in inpatient care and directs longterm acute care at Emory’s Wesley Woods Hospital.

For years, Frances Walker had managed reasonably well, despite her diabetes, hypothyroidism, a prior stroke, and heart problems.


Serving the elderly and chronically ill

Looking for a miracle

Seniors with depression

Providing some needed magic

As her heart condition continued to worsen, however, her doctor in south Georgia told her she needed valve replacement—preferably at Emory University Hospital Midtown (EUHM), where doctors had extensive experience in handling patients as broadly ill as she was.

From a cardiac perspective, the surgery was a success. But in the cascade of events that followed, everything that could go wrong did. One crisis led to another, with the result that some of her bowel tissue died and several fistulas or tears opened up between her bowel and the rest of her abdomen—a perfect storm for infection. She was transferred to Wesley Woods’ long-term acute care unit for wound care until she could return to EUHM for fistula repair. At Wesley Woods, she developed a fungal infection in her artificial value—not uncommon in patients with both bowel wounds and traumatized hearts.

Too debilitated for more surgery and often delirious, she was lucid enough to refuse Wesley Woods’ offer to arrange hospice care at home. As her condition further deteriorated, her family agreed that she should be moved to an inpatient hospice site closer to home.

Medicaid paid only the surgery costs at EUHM. The rest, from the wound and ventilator care to the ambulance that transported Walker to the inpatient hospice where she died, Wesley Woods had to cover on its own, with charges totaling roughly $668,000.


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