Here’s a letter mom wrote in early 2003 to the billing department of Horizon Healthcare Center, one of the assisted living facilities where my grandmother lived. I don’t know if she actually printed this and mailed it to them, although I assume she did.
March 10, 2003
Ms. Laura Gonzalez
Horizon Healthcare Center
1350 South Nova Road
Daytona Beach, Florida 32114
Dear Ms. Gonzalez,
I received your letter regarding the outstanding charges for my mother’s stay at Horizon several weeks ago, and I apologize for not contacting you sooner. Without going into detail, I can assure you there were extenuating circumstances for the delay.
I would like you to confirm that the invoice you sent me represents the entire time and charges from the date my mother left the sub-acute care center at Horizon to the date she left the facility altogether.
I understand that my mother moved out August 24, 2002. I would like to discuss with you the fact that it was my understanding at the time that she was moving out because she was very unhappy with the treatment she had received there in the final three or four weeks of her stay. My mother described to me incidents in which she saw other residents being rudely treated and verbally abused by staff. She also stated that, as soon as she got her roommate, the staff began to treat her differently, with less respect and care. Finally, she was extremely stressed on a couple of occasions by treatment, including one incident in which she was called into the corridor “to talk” and, when she was allow ed back in her room, she found her belongings, including furniture, had been moved without her permission.
I bring this up because these are the reasons she moved. At that time, my brother was handling her finances, and I am still not clear on what happened to the last payment. I will tell you that the extenuating circumstances I mentioned above have had a seriously negative impact on my personal finances. I recognize that you would like to get paid the $765.91 you stated was the final balance, but I will be unable to make anything but the smallest payments for some time to come. I am not unwilling to work with you to settle this matter, but I it is clear to me that my mother should not be expected to pay for poor treatment.
I visited my mother approximately every two weeks while she was in Horizon, and I will tell you that I personally observed staff members rudely yelling at residents. And I heard my mother’s distress when I spoke to her every night. I also observed how dirty the rooms were and the shoddy condition of the furniture, the smell of the carpeting, and the quality of the food.
Given that my mother was miserably unhappy there the last few weeks of her stay, I am offering to make small payments towards a part of the remaining bill on her behalf so that she will never hear about it again. Note that I have no obligation in this matter; however, if you are willing to accept $375.00 to settle the account, and will so state in writing, I will begin making small monthly payments as soon as I receive your return letter. I will also need a statement that my agreement to pay the above settlement amount, or any other action on my part on behalf of my mother, will in no way affect my personal credit.