Heart attack victim hounded for $5

February 3, 2008 4:26:39 PM PST
A Staten Island woman --in the midst of having a heart attack--is forced to pay her doctor's bill before she's taken to the hospital for emergency treatment.How much did she owe? Five dollars.

Here's Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson.

"No matter what job it is they tell you what you should do and shouldn't do," said Barbara Antonelli.

Well, clearly a worker at this Staten Island Medical Center missed that memo and Barbara Antonelli literally ended up paying the price.

"I feel bad for here because she was doing her job," said patient Barbara Antonelli. "But she was doing it at the wrong time and for the wrong patient."

Barbara was that patient.

It all started last month. The 76-year-old grandmother of eight wasn't feeling well. She knew it was her heart.

"It's an awful feeling light headed, sharp pain and arm was numb," said Barbara Antonelli.

The next day she came here. Technicians ran tests and her doctor immediately called an ambulance to take her to the hospital.

"The attendant and the ambulance driver came into the room and put me on and strapped me...," said Barbara Antonelli.

To a gurney, oxygen and all, and then a receptionist noticed something.

"She said could I possibly have five dollars for your co-pay," said Barbara Antonelli. "I said I don't believe you."

Barbara was stunned but paid the five dollars. Her son wrote a letter to the newspaper hoping this never happens to anyone else.

"I hope she isn't fired," said Barbara Antonelli. "She could be reprimanded and she should have been told the rules."

Barbara did eventually speak to the director of this practice who admits what the receptionist did was completely inappropriate. We also spoke to him.

"We actually invited Barbara to come down here to tell us why it bothered her so much," said Dr. Jack D'Angelo at Staten Island Physician Practice.

It seems like we're back to square one.