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UI cancels asking patients for money

BY ASHLEY OERMAN | NOVEMBER 20, 2009 7:21 AM

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After complaints from faculty, staff, and community members, UI officials confirmed Thursday they are canceling the proposed plan to solicit donations from hospital patients.

“We have decided to cancel our plan to initiate the program, and the review is still ongoing,” UI spokesman Tom Moore said.

The announcement came after a UI faculty and staff committee wrote a letter voicing their grievances with the UI Hospitals and Clinics plan to UI President Sally Mason on Nov. 13.

Nancy Danvin, a pediatrics program assistant and member of the Funded Retirement Insurance Committee, which sent the letter, said she is not against asking patients for money, but doesn’t want it to happen while they’re being treated.

“I don’t think [donation solicitations] should be intermingled with the clinic appointment,” Danvin said.

A draft of the letter explained the committee was aware fundraising is an important activity and had no issue of raising funds from grateful patients. However, the letter also stated that fundraising should be conducted without invading the privacy of patients or affecting the quality of health care they receive.

Moore said concerns with the proposal were not voiced by just the committee but “a variety of respondents.”

In the original plan, proposed by UIHC and UI Foundation officials, patients would have been given a letter — written by UI Vice President of Medical Affairs Jean Robillard — asking for their consent to receive information about UIHC progress as well as solicitations for donations.

Nurses and receptionists would have been taught how to hand out the forms and collect patients’ information. They would have then given the letters to patients upon their arrival for treatment.

However, the forms would not have been given to everyone. Patients with Medicaid or IowaCare, which usually cover lower-income individuals, would not have received the forms.

Sheldon Kurtz told the DI on Nov. 1 that he believed that this could lead to unequal care.

However, hospital officials told the DI that same day that doctors would be unaware of which patients received information.

Susan Shullaw, a UI Foundation senior vice president, said officials developed the process to accommodate patients who wish to give to UIHC.

“Patients often seek us out and ask how they can help, so it’s important to us to make that kind of info available to patients,” Shullaw said.

Shullaw noted the UI Foundation is looking at other options to raise money.

Danvin suggested putting brochures in waiting rooms and exam rooms.

“They could have a place on the website where people could sign up to receive fundraising info in specified areas,” she said.

Shullaw said the UI Foundation and UIHC will keep trying to find positive ways to recruit new donors.

“We’re not going to stop; we’re going to continue to talk about the most appropriate ways to do it,” she said.


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