After a day of building emergency mobile homes for victims of Oregon’s wildfires, Brian Shaw, a worker from Mississippi, stepped into the bathroom in his hotel room. He slipped, falling so hard that it took him six hours to pick himself up and call for help.
Brian did not suffer a concussion or any broken bones, but both his knees, which had been replaced in previous operations, were so swollen that he couldn’t put weight on them. He spent a month recuperating in Asante Rogue Regional Medical Center. Each day, he recalls, “the bill kept getting larger and larger.”
Brian returned home to Mississippi, where he continued his recovery and began making monthly $25 payments to Asante. The hospital told Brian that he could afford to make higher payments, based on income from his work for FEMA. For the same reason, they denied his request for debt relief under the charity care program that all hospitals must have as a condition of their tax-free status. But Brian no longer worked at that job and he could not get other work until his legs healed.
“[They] had an attitude as if I was deliberately trying not to pay my bill,” Brian said. “I told them that’s not the case.” With the cost of everything going up, including his mortgage payment, Brian was struggling to stretch his Social Security payments and temporary unemployment insurance. “I pay all my bills,” Brian told the hospital, “I just can’t pay anything now. I have no money.” Asante told him that it would put his account in collections.
Brian called local chapters of national nonprofits to ask for help with his bill. He was told they could not help. He was running out of options when he saw Dollar For mentioned on Facebook. After he filled out Dollar For’s short eligibility form, he “got an email almost immediately” from a Patient Advocate. They followed up via phone and text, to help Brian reapply for debt relief and to say which documents they would need from him. From there, the Patient Advocate took over the process of working with the hospital.
Brian recalled how it felt to work with Dollar For. “People were so friendly and helpful,” he said. “It [felt] like you’re not in this by yourself.”
Within a month of reapplying for debt relief, the hospital called Brian. They said his bill was forgiven.
“It was as if somebody lifted a house off my back,” said Brian. “I was ecstatic. I couldn’t believe it actually worked.”
Without Dollar For’s help, “I don’t know what I’d do,” he said. “I’d be bankrupt.”
For those facing their own bills, Brian said, “it is well worth taking a chance to go through Dollar For. It’s just a life saver.”