Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hospital Horror Story: Absence of professional conduct standards at Henry Mayo

Dear Dave, How ironic and timely your commentary was in the SCVB concerning our local hospital, Henry Mayo (HMNMH). My elderly mother was a frequent patient at HM both in the ER and in-patient.  She was a widow and I am her only daughter who lives five minutes from her and three minutes from HM. Needless to say, my name is all over her records.  I will add that over the years, I have talked with more doctors and nurses at HM than I could count.

On Friday Sept 7, 2012, mom was taken by ambulance to HM; as far as I can piece together, around 2:20 p.m.  Her building managers, by protocol, gave the paramedics a sheet of paper with my contact information written on it clearly in two places. I had just spoken with mom at length the night before so not speaking with her Friday was not a concern; I would have touched base on Saturday.

I didn't have to. A call came to my home on Sept. 8th about 7:10 a.m. from a former care-helper whom, thank God, had kept my number (yes, somehow this nurse managed to dig up an obscure phone number). She kept saying mom was "very bad". I immediately called HM and through a circuitous route spoke with an RN whom I could barely communicate with due to a language barrier. She was mom's nurse at the time. I did get two pieces of information: she said she called me "a lot" and left messages at my home (that did NOT happen) and that mom's condition took a bad turn and she was sent to Holy Cross (....whisked out by around 6:15 a.m.) I told her I was around home all day and have a working answer machine and received no calls from her. When I asked what number she had called, she gave me mom's home number. I was stunned. I asked her to look further and within seconds she recited my home number. How in this world she so easily accessed my number at that moment is beyond any rationale.

I telephoned Holy Cross and they insisted that mom was not there. I kept insisting and repeating the information I was given and after being on hold a while, "Dr. M." came to the phone.  I expected to get mom's room number or ICU information but instead I heard "I did everything I could but I could not save her". Horrible. When I went to Holy Cross to sign papers, they were not happy with the actions, or lack of, from Henry Mayo..."we will do our own investigation". 

I then went to HM to retrieve some of mom's personal items they had retained and spoke with some of the staff who shall remain nameless because they were not on duty at the time of the events. They were also shaking their heads on how this could happen.  I am presently following up with a nursing supervisor (also nameless), for starters, about this incident.  She was also puzzled with acknowledging that my contact information is all over the records. 

It was very difficult, emotionally, hours after mom's death, to go to her apartment and listen to the stressful calls on her answer machine from the nurse telling me it was serious and get to the hospital asap.

The medical care that mom received is not the issue with me right now; it is the absolute absence of professional conduct standards. That negligence cost me my last in-person time with my mom as there were times in the 19 or so hours she was in their care that she was stable and coherent. The haunt that I live with most, is that while mom was laying in that hospital bed she was being told that I had been called and she must have been wondering why I didn't show up.  It isn't easy to go to sleep each night thinking of that.  Its a pretty heavy psychological weight to bear.......all put upon me by the negligence of some staff at Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital. 

I have made it known to some of HM employees; I have no plans of just going away quietly.

Betty Arenson- Valencia, CA.

Betty Arenson is a resident of Valencia. Her letters/commentaries represent her own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization she may be affiliated with or those of the West Ranch Beacon.


  1. Hello, this respected news outlet has been publishing other horror stories. Why hasn't the hospital board reached out to the community to evaluate the information in the articles? By the way what locals are on the board and how did they get the job as a board member? Why are there so many horror stories??

  2. I am so sorry for your loss, Betty! HMNMH'S apparent lack of appropriate and professional help in your mother's case is just unacceptable. No hospital is perfect, but these types of errors and lack of communication have been reported time and again at Henry Mayo. I truly pray that you get some answers and that experiences like yours, shared openly and honestly help to change the policies at our local hospital. Patients and their families deserve better. You and your family will be in our prayers. God bless.