November 24, 2008: Completely Disgusted with Hudson Valley Hospital Center

Dominica is now 40 weeks and 3 days pregnant…

I got to sleep in again.  This is five days of continuous eight hours or more of sleep every day.  This is unprecedented!  I can’t remember the last time that I was so rested.

The federal governments backstop plan for Citi went through during the night and Citi shares were soaring in pre-market trading this morning.  Things are looking up in the short term for Citi and the east end of Wall Street.

Dominica’s day consistent of nothing but poorly handled medical visits.  She slept in a little and just before noon dad drove her down to the clinic downtown for her appointment with her midwife.  She was barely there fifteen minutes when she called to have me come pick her right up.  It turns out that the midwife’s office had scheduled her appointment before the appointment at the hospital which this appointment was meant to discuss.  So Dominica whole morning had been planned around a trip to the clinic where all they did was realize that they had a scheduling mistake and send her home.  So she has to go back in two days.

Rant Warning: I am beyond livid with Hudson Valley Hospital Center in Peekskill, NY and their unprofessional behaviour.  For the 99% of my readers who don’t need to know the details of the day here is what’s important – nothing is wrong with Dominica or the baby.  Everyone is healthy but the baby is not likely to come for several more days.  The rest of this post is a record so that we can recall exactly how HVHC behaved today.  Feel free to skip it.

Then, with only a small break at home, at two in the afternoon I took Dominica over to the Hudson Valley Hospital Center for the ultrasound and non-stress test (NST) that the midwife had wanted to have discussed this morning.  I was running around trying to get showered and fed before we left.  I only had time for a quick snack instead of lunch.  The change in her earlier plans had thrown off my schedule a bit.

So at two we went to the ultrasound at the hospital.  Dominica managed to get pre-registered so that we don’t have to do that when we go in for the labor and delivery.  The ultrasound went well but took longer than expected because the baby is extremely active and twists and turns so much that the ultrasound technician was unable to get good pictures.  Everything looks good and the baby is estimated at 7 pounds 6 ounces.  It is evident from the ultrasound that labor is not ready to begin because the baby hasn’t completely moved into position yet.  Labor is unlikely to begin until the baby is “lodged” head down without much room to move.

From the ultrasound we went up to the delivery ward for the non-stress test.  In reality, the NST should be called something more like an “activity test” since the real test is to make sure that the baby is mobile and active which, in theory, is facilitated by not being under stress.  Since the test actually tests mobility and activity and not stress it seems misleading in a marketing-statistics sort of way to refer to the test as a non-stress test.

The test itself went quite quickly.  Fifteen minutes or so and that was all wrapped up.  Then we got stuck for a while and I could not figure out what was going on.  It was already three thirty or later by this point and I was thinking that we would be doing well to be all done by four.  The results were up from the ultrasound and everything looked good.  Then, without any hint of there being “more to come”, we were given menus and asked if we would like the television put on (we were in a delivery room with all of the “fixins”.)  This was a bad omen.

Eventually a phlebotomist arrived and tried to take Dominica’s blood samples.  He was completely absent minded and talked to himself like he was crazy the entire time.  He was friendly but seemed to be quite off his rocker.  His English was not clear at all either so I could barely understand anything that he was saying.  He might have been high.  He certainly was not coherent.

The phlebotomist took Dominica blood sample through her hand instead of through her arm.  He was very bad at drawing blood and this proved to be incredibly painful.  I looked over and saw Dominica trying not to cry from the pain.  The needle in the back of her hand looked horribly painful and he was not paying any attention as he wrenched it this way and that.  I think that he may have kept forgetting that he was in the middle of drawing blood.  Dominica was visibly in unbelievable pain but was trying hard not to let on.

After the blood was drawn we sat.  And sat.  And sat.  After about an hour of no news a nurse came in to tell us that when no results had arrived from the lab that they had called to check and once they had confronted the lab about the lack of results the lab admitted that the phlebotomist had taken too little blood for some of the samples and had completely forgotten (or lost) some of the other samples so samples would need to be drawn again.  The lab was apparently quite embarassed and attempting to avoid the situation by not communicating this to us in the hopes that we would just leave eventually and not need the tests to be run.

Then we sat.  The lab never responded.  No phlebotomist ever arrived.  After forty five minutes the nurses came in to appologize, gave us a letter of apology and some gift certificates to the gift shop and called the lab to yell at them and to get someone up right away, but, as can be expected at this point, the lab refused to send a phlebotomist.  So we sat for another long while.  Nothing.

Our only guess is that there is some political struggle going on within the hospital and that hospital administration has lost control of some of the departments and that the blood lab is attempting to exert some control by refusing to do thier jobs.  It is incredibly unprofessional and a violation of medical ethics to let some petty internal concerns like this keep patients from getting medical treatment and lab results.

Finally the third shift nurse (we were there through three shifts!) told the blood lab that she was doing the blood collection herself since they refused.  It took an additional forty five minutes from the time that we were discussing leaving and having the hospital call us at home once they decided that we were worth treating until the blood lab was willing to tell the nurse what samples were needed in order to run the tests.  Incredible.

The nurse on duty took the blood sample and just after eight in the evening – SIX HOURS after we had arrived at the hospital, we finally had the results from the extremely simple bloodwork saying that everything was fine.  All of that and they could have just taken the blood sample at three thirty and called us at home.  We were there for so long that Dominica had a full meal delivered to her hospital room and was offered a second meal because it had been so long since the first one.  We went through three nursing shifts.  We arrived in the middle of the day and left after visiting hours had ended and the vallets had gone home.  The lights had turned off almost an hour before we were done.

It was really sad that long after the nurses had realized that something had gone wrong that it took several times the length of the total time necessary to draw the blood and get the tests results to even get the lab to respond at all.  Other patients were likely arriving, getting tests and leaving all while we sat waiting.

The whole ordeal was really awful.  We were in the dark pretty much the entire time.  I had no idea why we were there past four o’clock or what was going on.  There was really no communications to us.  We were just suddenly left alone in a delivery room for what seemed like no reason.  The worst part is, that even though the nursing staff for the delivery unit were great, that I have serious doubts about the hospital’s ability to handle any sort of actual medical care or to deal with an emergency.  What if something goes wrong during the delivery?  Will the hospital respond or will politics play a bigger role while disaster strikes.  If this is how the facility handles a normal situation what would happen when lives are at stake?  This was our first interaction with the hospital and now we have to have the baby there (we are too far away from another hospital to consider using them and we are too far along in the pregnancy to even consider it if one were closer) even without being able to trust them to handle the most trivial medical task.

It was a lot like watching Kitchen Nightmares when one customer waits for food and watches customers who come in after them get seated and served and leave before they get any food and at all.  Then complain that this is happening, get tons of apologies from the owner and then have MORE people come in, sit down and go through an entire dinner cycle and still not get anything themselves.  You wonder how that could possibly happen in a restaurant (it actually happened to me at Tom Wahl’s in Avon in 1993) but it is truly amazing to see it happen in a hospital!  And for all we know this is how everyone is treated all the time.  We have no evidence to tell us that this was a fluke.  No administrator was called.  No one was disciplined and after several “cycles” of being completely ignored nothing changed.  These are symptoms of a system where this type of behaviour is normal, accepted and no longer a cause for concern.

After our hospital ordeal we went to Pastel’s at the Beach Shopping Center for dinner.  We had been planning on going there since about five thirty.  Only, once we arrived, we realized that it was so late that the restaurant had closed.  So we called dad and had him wait at the house (he was going to meet us at the restaurant) and we drove back home.  Then we all drove together to New City Diner and had dinner there.

By the time that we got back home it was well after ten and I still had work for the office that I needed to do.  So Dominica went straight to bed and I went to work for another hour or so.  It is pretty pathetic that a simple, routine test in the early afternoon causes us to have to go to bed late.

I got to head off to bed around midnight.  I will be working from home again tomorrow.  It is a good thing as I have a ton of catching up to do from my lost day today.

Join the Conversation


  1. File a formal complaint with the administration of the hospital. If nothing else this will protect you in the event that something goes wrong again, and they may refund your co-pay and/or waive billing to your insurance company.

  2. Hi Scott. I am Dominica’s cousin, Bernadette. We haven’t met, but I have been lurking on your blog recently.

    I am so sorry this happened to you. No one should ever be treated that way in a hospital. This is such a tough time and to have this happen just makes it worse. You may find that being a parent gives you a ferocity that you have never had before.

    Tell D that I feel her pain. I had to have an ultrasound and NST twice a week for the last 6 weeks of my pregnancy. I am thinking of you both. Take care,


  3. I hope you make an official complaint. That phlebotomist should be fired or at least disciplined. You must make management aware of the problem, though, so they can correct the problem. Don’t rely on the lab or the nurses to follow up.

    We are vitally interested in this, since we are also potential HVH clients.

    Barbara (who had a stroke a year ago) is currently getting therapy at HVH and we are satisfied with the quality of the service. But you never know when we’ll have an emergency and end up there. If we do, we don’t want a druggie bopping around her veins.

  4. Our visit today (the 25th) went much better and they kept apologizing for yesterday’s problems. We didn’t need any lab work done today though. We will likely be back to the hospital within a few days (a week at most.)

Leave a comment