$80,000 does not get you a nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose

One doesn't imagine on checking into a place called Photo: Good Samaritan Hospital, San Jose, CA

WASHINGTON, January 7, 2013 ― “I have heard nothing but good things from Good Sam Hospital,” my friend said. I decided to go there that night.

I should have fled Good Samaritan Hospital when the nurse mused, “We’re going on strike in two days. I’m not sure how much help you can get here.”

Those weren’t the words I wanted to hear after stopping twice along Highway 85, right before the Union Avenue exit, to vomit out my car door, then in my desperation to get help slamming my foot to the gas pedal, only to stop to vomit harder.

Yes, excellent to hear, and truly gave the full effect of having chosen the most suitable hospital in which to receive the finest care. (dripping sarcasm fully intended.)

“You’re going on strike?” I asked, in shock, as I held my right lower stomach, hunched over in pain, preparing to vomit once again. “Why would you even be in health care, if you could just walk out and not take care of people?”

“We want better health care benefits,” the nurse said with great pride.

The ER, dramatically silent, nobody made eye contact, and the sounds of curtains pulling against the metal rods, echoed as the silver ER doors opened and closed.

“While you take away my benefits?” I asked the nurse. It was not going very well with the sarcasm.

The conversation, certainly not being done over coffee at a café, needed to get to the point sometime.

“Anyway,” he said, as he shrugged his shoulders, “I’m TJ. I’m going to need to take your vitals. Stop shivering,” TJ said in a strong voice, “while I’m taking your blood pressure.”

“It is 4am,” I said. I squinted my eyes in astonishment. I tried to stop trembling. I went on to say, “I have been vomiting and not sure what is even wrong with me.”

“Have you had any surgeries before? What is your level of pain,” TJ asked as he typed

TJ asked far too many questions. I began to tell TJ I had hernia surgery before. “My level of pa,” I began to say before TJ interrupted me.

“What type of hernia?”

Hesitating a moment, I began to say, “I,” before TJ interrupted me.

“Come on man, what type of hernia,” Nurse TJ asked?

I pointed to my lower abdomen and said, “I thought there was only one type.”

“No, there are several,” Nurse TJ said and then saw me point to my lower stomach. “Oh,” TJ said shaking his head as if to say, “Now we’re getting somewhere,” “that is inguinal hernia. That’s fairly common.”

After an hour of questions and a series of very sharp pains in my lower right stomach, the hospital finally put me in a bed, making me wait another hour and a half.

One does not imagine, upon returning from South America where things in contrast to the US are different, that walking into Good Samaritan Hospital, in San Jose, CA, one would find nurses basically unwilling to help; unwilling to help because they were going on strike in two days.  

Preparing to strike in two days by denying care today. 

Nurse TJ was, actually, one of the more welcoming nurses.

The rest of the nurses never came into my room after my appendix was removed. At least, Nurse TJ asked questions and gave me some medicine to ease the pain.

Following surgery, I.V.’s beeped for ten minutes without a response. I called the nurse, any nurse, to have it replaced. Through the intercom I heard, “Oh my goodness, kill me. He needs his I.V.”

In the twenty-eight hours I was in the hospital, I saw a nurse maybe seven times. That is about one visit every four hours: roughly half the time those angels of mercy are supposed to show up and check on patients.

After surgery, waking up in a dark room, the only sound is beeping machines, and there is an empty I.V.  Oh, that’s right, they were going on strike in two days; they had to prepare for that, rather than pay attention to their patients. Or the alarms on machines and IV drips.

I was my only advocate for better care. I had just had surgery. I was in trouble.

Nobody expects, going to a hospital, to find themselves receiving worse care than if they were in their own home, alone. I finally requested to check myself out, still fairly fresh from surgery, knowing that at least at home food was an option.

The doctor finally came in, asking how I felt. The nurses showed up with paperwork; the only time they were actually punctual. The doctor and I signed the paperwork. I folded each of the sheets I used and my bed spread and walked out.

No wheel chair escort to the curb at Good Sam. Nobody asked me who would take me home. I drove home, on pain medicine, less than twenty hours after surgery, and nobody at Good Sam asked one question as I gingerly walked out the door alone.

Good Samaritan Hospital, in San Jose, CA, certainly exhibited poor intentions with their health care. The reason health care costs rise? Could it be, in part, the lack of attention the “professionals” actually give to their patients.

You do not have to go very far in any one direction to see people that show up everyday for their benefits, salaries, and retirement. These caregivers did not show up to work for the love of their jobs, a desire to positively impact another persons life.

All you have to do is stop in an environment where people are about to strike, especially Good Samaritan Hospital, to see what is really important. The nurses health care.

You would find out how much help, health care, you will not receive, even for a bill of $73,925.88, roughly $2,640.21 per hour.  

For every $10,560.84, I got to see a nurse. 

I never questioned my bill. Although, for that price, I should have had a pace maker put in or even some sort of plastic surgery done.

The purpose of sharing this? I simply wanted to inform Good Samaritan in San Jose, California how their nurses treat their customers, so I sent them a letter.

Their response was certainly not a letter I thought I would see.  You can see it above where it is attached to this column.

It may have you thinking twice before you go there, even if you are in unbearable pain, and vomiting, at 4:00 am.

Good Samaritan Hospital certainly has something to think about.



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Henry Biernacki

Henry Biernacki has been traveling with his rucksack since he was 17 years old when he took a Greyhound Bus from Colorado to Mexico. In one year, Henry went around the world, sleeping in the streets, spending only 3700USD. He met Mother Teresa 2 September 1997 (3 days before she passed away) and had a personal audience with her. He has traveled to over 120 countries and continues to travel. 

He earned a BA in Romance Languages (French/Spanish) and International Affairs. He has lived in France, Germany, Taiwan, the West Indies and Mexico before returning to the United States.

Today, Henry is an airline Captain for one of the top airlines in the United States. He has flown Airbus319/320 and Boeing747-400/757/767.



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