ChristianaCare Patient and Family Relations’ Disregard for Patient Needs and Safety

I wanted to pursue a serious grievance regarding a ChristianaCare medical experience that caused me significant and lasting harm. I received communiques that are unhelpful, and mostly gobbledygook. I only received the vaguest assurance of any resolution of the harmful systemic and provider issues because I kept pushing for six months.  

The grievance process was extremely frustrating and slightly more than useless. I only obtained the slim satisfaction of a meeting with leadership after months of persistence and luck that I pushed the right buttons in the right order. I was not granted the meeting with the provider for which I made multiple requests. As one repeatedly harmed by abusive and neglectful men throughout my life, I need to speak my piece to Dr. Schwartz. I’m not sure if it is him, leadership, high mucky-mucks, or the attorneys who are afraid of my words, but I guess maybe all four. 

The Patient Relations office demonstrated great disregard for the needs of the patient, as you can see by the contact log below. I didn’t realize at first that I would deal with a stonewalling obfuscator so I didn’t log the first 2-3 calls, but the pattern is clear. Kellie McQueen often neglected to return a call until I resorted to the use of some sharp words. Then she would move a fraction of an inch.  If she’s not supposed to be a stonewaller then she needs to go back to the factory to overwrite the program because she is not a good person for an aggrieved patient to deal with on any level. I declined to try to work with her because she has repeatedly shown great reluctance to work with me. In addition, Ms. McQueen showed not even a speck of empathy. The best she and the entire system could offer was, “I was disappointed to hear you did not feel supported,” which is two middle fingers up!

Nobody should have to work that hard to get a feel-good meeting, one that should have been offered by the system a year ago. They should have asked me for a debriefing that would help them do better in the future. Not put it on me, and put it on me to be doggedly determined to get a freaking decent response from this person who is supposed to be in patient relations. Most aggrieved people aren’t going to go through that; it’s too much for them. They’re busy trying to recover from whatever harm was done to them and maybe get back to work so they can earn money to pay their rent or mortgage and pay their medical bills. From what I can tell, this is what The System wants. 

If Kellie McQueen’s job is to wear out “complainers” with gobbledygook, silent treatment, and inaction she deserves a raise. If her job is to help people who have encountered problems in the system then she needs to be moved to a new position in the back of the file room ASAP. Stonewalling and silent treatment are highly dysfunctional and a kind of abuse. They seem to be built into the patient relations system. That’s jacked up!

I did not log the first few calls between Kellie and myself, but soon it became apparent that I needed to. Here is the contact log to date. 

2019-04-16 – I left a voicemail about going forward with the grievance.

2019-04-23 – I left a voicemail about going forward with the grievance.

2019-04-30 – I left a voicemail, “As I said in my last message, I wish to take the Dr. Schwartz matter to the grievance level. Dr. Schwartz’s behavior was inappropriate and he should experience the consequences that inform him so he can avoid causing similar harm to other patients in the future.  If you are unable to help in a timely manner I will find the go-around. I’m going to give it another 24 hours, and then…I’ll see you on the other side.”

2019-05-03 –  Received letter dated April 30 stating “these concerns have been forwarded to our leadership within the Department of Psychiatry.” [Psychiatry and Behavioral Health leadership

2019-07-24 – Received letter from Kellie McQueen dated April 30 re Dr. Schwartz grievance with handwritten note about excuses, letter says need time to talk to “entire staff involved in your concern.” Who are those staff? 

2019-07-31- Received letter from McQueen dated July 25 and postmarked July 29 stating she had “immediately forwarded your concerns to the leadership for the Department of Family & Community Medicine” which contradicts her first letter. 

2019-08-26 – Visited Kellie McQueen in her office. She told me they weren’t going to share the report or tell me the outcome. I requested a meeting with Dr. Schwartz. She said leadership might decide it better for them to meet with me. Fine. 

2019-09-15 – Left Kellie a VM to touch base about my request to have a meeting with Dr. Schwartz. 

2019-09-18 – 2105. Left Kellie a VM:  I came by to see you today around 2:30 but you were out of the office. I wanted to tell you that I don’t just want to see Dr. Schwartz, I want an apology from him. From his mouth to my ear. That shouldn’t be too hard to arrange. I expect you could work that out within a couple weeks, max. And I really hope so because I don’t want to trouble you. I know your job is a lot about smoke, mirrors, glitter, and hoping people will eventually go away. Unfortunately, I’m not that type. I want some satisfaction. It’s been almost 5 months and I have no satisfaction at all. Just these three letters that are pretty much gobbledygook. You told me there was an investigation and it was completed on a particular date. You can’t tell me who was involved, what process was used, and whether there was any change in anything. For all I know Dr. Schwartz could be neglecting his duty every day. and if this is how Christiana care treats patient relations and grievances then how can I have confidence that I won’t encounter another Doctor who puts his or her patients at unnecessary risk?  like I said I’m not going away. I want satisfaction. I hope you can work with me on this because if you can’t I will have to figure out my own way to get satisfaction. It will be legal and it will be civil but it won’t be pretty. I look forward to hearing from you soon about when I can get my apology from dr. Schwartz. Thanks and have a great day.

2019-09-19 – Kellie left a VM: Hi Shay, it’s Kellie from patient relations at Wilmington Hospital. I did receive your message from last night at 9:12. I am working directly with the leadership in order to set up a meeting, and as we discussed in my office, I don’t necessarily think that Dr. Schwartz would be at that meeting. I think it will be leadership. But I do ask them to kind of guide me on when we could meet and who will be at the meeting. I’m sorry that you feel that maybe my job is made of smoke and mirrors and twinkle dust and all this, but it really isn’t. I take my job very seriously, and I take your grievance very seriously so long. I am working towards getting this thing scheduled and I will be back in touch once I have a couple of days for you to choose from. All right. Thank you very much, bye-bye.

2019-10-08 Left VM for Kellie at 1505 – Hi, Kellie, It’s been 6 weeks since I visited your office with my request for a meeting with Dr. Schwartz. As you recall, at that time you let me know it would likely be with “leadership” rather than the psychologist whose willful neglect put me in the hospital for a week. You also let me know that ChristianaCare won’t share the grievance report or tell me the outcome. In other words, no satisfaction at all. 

From this patient’s standpoint, it is clear that neither Christiana Care, its “leadership,” or its patient relations department cares about patients who are harmed by its providers. Otherwise, I would have received a swift and genuine apology from *somebody*. 

In the 6+ months I have interacted with you you have shown me your capability within the dictates of your job. I understand systems are inherently slow and cranky. I also know the difference between that and obfuscation. I see no sign that anyone took it seriously, nor do I see any potential satisfaction through your system. Such a well-established pattern says I can count on it being the same in the future so it’s time to move along. I’ve lost my desire to *try* to work with you so I have turned my attention toward a different direction. Thanks for your time and have a good day. 

2019-10-09, at 1346 Kellie left VM – Hi Shay, it’s Kellie from patient relations. I did get your message, and I’m reaching out to you to schedule a time. I’m not sure if you have any restrictions in the day or time. We have some parking things going on here at Wilmington, but I can schedule it either location Wilmington or Christiana Thursday. If you have any dates that you absolutely cannot make if you could leave me a voicemail, and I will have someone in my office that helps scheduling make sure that we honor those dates and times that you’re not able to meet if there is some days and times that are better if you can share that that would be helpful as well. So, feel free to leave me a message at 320-4608. Thank you.

2019-10-19 I left a vm for Kellie – I got your message and initially was not inclined to respond because it is regurgitative. This is what we spoke of when I visited your office 8 weeks ago. No progress in 2 months.  However, on further consideration I decided if you can get back to me in a week with a date 2-4 weeks out, without further prompting, then that would indicate a significant improvement in your pattern. So I will give it one last try. In that 2-4 week window my only unavailability is Thursday mornings and 10-1 on Tuesday November 12th. I could meet at Wilmington hospital or Foulk road family Medicine. Given that exceptional flexibility I’m sure the scheduler will be pleased to easily find something available. I look forward to hearing about the meeting with leadership in the next week or so. Have a nice day.

2019-10-21 VM from Kellie McQueen at 1525 – Shay hi. It’s Kellie from patient relations. I got your message. And I know that you had stated some difficulties with Thursday’s I do want to just check because we’re having difficulty getting people together at the same time. Could you please call and leave a message on my voicemail if 10/31 at 11:00 is something that you’re able to do and I could actually have that right in my office so that we don’t have to get any conference space. Its conference space has been very tight for scheduling meetings. So if that is a date that you are available, then I can secure that with the Physicians, the leadership. So what’s the date would be October 31st at 11:00.  [Short notice, and on the day of the week and time I specifically said I could not generally make!] If you could just confirm that and leave me a message. That would be great. Thank you. You can reach me at 320-4608.

2019-10-22 at 0730, I called, spoke to Kellie – Said I appreciate your proposal for meeting with leadership at 11 a.m. on Thursday, October 31st in your office. It turns out that it can work.  

Kellie said she’ll send a letter by mail to confirm the meeting and who I’m meeting with. Also offered to cover valet parking if I like. Finally, some actual movement here! 

2019-10-29 Kellie left this VM at 0849 – Shay hi. It’s Kellie from patient relations at Wilmington Hospital. Just wanted to reach out to you. I we are scheduled for Thursday to meet with the two providers that I have scheduled. I unfortunately have a family emergency and I have something that I have to attend on Thursday at the same time. I can have my colleague actually come to my office and have the meeting in my office so that we don’t prolong this any longer and you know, you’re able to meet with the providers off. My preference is that I I would like to see this followed through myself, but I understand it’s just, you know, been long-time scheduling and and getting everybody together. So I’m going to ask if you could leave me a message on my voicemail today. I’ll be picking up my messages and I can certainly have one of my colleagues, you know, come to my office job. You know facilitate the meeting, so that’s not a problem. But if it’s something that you prefer me to facilitate or be there with you, I would certainly try to have this may be rescheduled for next week, and I would ask the providers to make adjustments in their schedule to do so, it’s just I apologize. It was a very unexpected situation we have so I have to be out on Thursday. So just let me know whatever works for you. I am happy to have my colleague fill in for me, or I’m happy to try to have this thing rescheduled for the following week when I’ll be here. All right. I’ll wait to hear from you. If you wouldn’t mind. Just leaving me a message. So I know if I need to schedule one of my partners. My number is 320-430-6085.

My return message:
I got your message and I agree that keeping the meeting as scheduled is best. I’m sorry you have a family emergency and I hope all is soon well again. I’ll look forward to meeting with your colleague at the meeting we scheduled on Thursday at 11. Thanks, take care, bye-bye. 

2019-10-31 – Meeting with Leadership – The culmination of 6 months of effort. 

This was the feel good meeting we should have had soon after I got out of the hospital last July, 16 months prior.  At last, I finally got someone in the system to listen!  Drs. Kavanaugh and Rapacciuolo understood what I said and were empathetic and apologetic. They took my criticism and suggestions well. They informed me that my case had resulted in identification of some holes to plug and that “a curriculum” was in process, “but these things take time,” so, every day the system continues to unnecessarily re-traumatize people. Based on treatment from providers and patient relations, I’ll never learn what was and will be implemented, so there is no assurance for me. 

2019-11-13 VM from Kellie – Hi Shay, this is Kellie McQueen calling from patient relations at the Wilmington Hospital. I’m just following up. I apologize that I was not able to attend your meeting that Charlie filled in for me, but he did fill me in on your meeting, and I hope that that was helpful. I think he felt that it was so if you would like to give me a call back. I just wanted to um discuss I guess maybe scheduling in the office and just I guess who the contact would be. I guess who would see you for Continued Care. I’m not sure. I think that was discussed at the meeting, but I just want to make sure that I’m clear and and you’re clear, and we probably have to discussion. So I’m in the office all day tomorrow. Please feel free to give me a call at any time. My number again is 302-320-4608. And this is Kellie from patient relations Thank you. Bye.

2019-11-15 – My Email to Kellie, re her VM of 13 NOV – Hi, Kellie, I received your voice message and am not at all clear what it is about. It would help if you could clarify the subject for me. Thank you, and have a great day!

No reply to date. Maybe the email address was wrong, but given Kellie’s pattern of unresponsiveness, I have to presume she is just doing her job: give me the silent treatment and hope it makes me go away. But I am done dealing with her. She is bad for my mirror neurons and I’ll not have that in my life.

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