I am concerned for the welfare of patients at the New England Baptist Hospital who come there through the WorldPath program. WorldPath, in case you missed the absolutely astonishing article in the winter 2001 Boston Globe, is a for-profit medical practice catering to wealthy foreigners that was set up by, and is primarily staffed by, physicians from NEBH. After all, this web site is about the abuse and terrorization I experienced while a bedridden inpatient at the New England Baptist Hospital, even after my husband and I paid thousands of dollars of our own money to be treated there.
In this program, WorldPath patients (which include royalty from around the world), in return for paying through the nose in cash directly to the hospital for their medical care rather than using part insurance and part cash, as most Baptist patients do, get cushy, priority service from WorldPath physicians. In return for paying cash, they receive amenities, such as waits of no more than 15 minutes, doctor visits of no less then 45 minutes, and response to phone calls within a few hours. Many of these amenities used to be considered the standard of care for all patients. WorldPath clients also get limo and hotel service, and a patient advocate accompanies the client at every doctor visit. Long black limousines regularly ply Parker Hill Avenue, carrying nervous-looking women and men who are obviously off their own turf.
Here's a quote from Donald Cornuet, WorldPath CEO, about the services his doctors provide: If you're getting 100 percent of your fee schedule you might want to call the patient back right away. Because the next time we have a referral for your specialty you might not get it. It's pretty simple. The more responsive the doctors are the more patients they see. The patient is the center of every interaction.... (Boston Globe, February 4, 2001. pg. A24)
My husband and I paid over $10,000 of our own money, plus the over-$6,000 hospital bill from the Baptist that we eventually received, yet I was still abused, terrorized, and thrown out of the hospital without the emergency surgery I needed. The only reason I didn't emerge from this experience more disabled than I am is that we were in our hometown, and after it was made very clear to us that no help would be forthcoming from the doctors or staff at NEBH, we, like Donna Harris-Lewis, got on the phone and called everyone we knew for help.
What might happen to someone who comes in through the WorldPath program, and accidentally offends Dr. Basilico or one of the ProSports orthopedists? (see Abused at the Baptist: A Chronology) Money won't help them very much if they're stuck in a foreign country, perhaps not speaking English, with no knowledge of patient rights laws, and no network of local contacts to whom they can turn. What if the physicians at the Baptist, as they did to me, refuse to perform the surgery or procedures that these folks need or try to discharge them to home or to a local nursing home? What if they refuse these patients the right to speak to a hospital administrator or patient advocate, as they did to me? The fact that we had spent $10,000 to go there didn't protect me. Will it protect them?