Feb 27, 2013 / 5:00 pm
A Kelowna man is angry after he says he was denied medical attention at a Lakeshore Road walk-in-clinic over an outstanding bill of $50.
Aaron Korpaski says that decision nearly killed him.
Korpaski says he went to the walk-in-clinic at 3970 Lakeshore Rd. Monday, Feb. 4 after feeling intense pain in his head, face and neck.
"I stood up and within two to three seconds my head all of a sudden became pressurized. I had immense pain go from by forehead to the base of my neck at which point the base of my neck felt completely paralyzed, I could not move my head or turn it," says Korpaski.
"The pain grew more intense. I began sweating, became very dizzy, lost balance, I could not focus. It was the worst pain I have had in my head or neck in my whole life."
It was later discovered Korpaski had suffered an aneurysm - a blood vessel in his brain had burst.
Korpaski says he drove himself to the walk-in-clinic near his home on Lakeshore Road to seek medical attention.
"I told them I have something very severe going on in my head and I need to see a doctor immediately. I couldn't talk properly - I was holding on to the reception window with both hands trying to keep myself upright," says Korpaski.
"I was just a mess trying to get some medical attention and asked to see a doctor - even for a minute."
Korpaski didn't have his Care Card with him and when the receptionist entered his name in the computer he was informed he had an outstanding $50 charge and she couldn't help him until that was paid.
He says he offered to pay using his bank card but was informed the machine was not working.
"She said I'm sorry sir we can't have a doctor look at you. I basically begged and pleaded to see a doctor."
Korpaski says at one point a doctor poked his head out from the back but was told to go back to what he was doing - 'don't worry about it'.
He says he was told he would have to go to emergency.
"I was so appalled by it. There were probably three doctors there but none of them was allowed to come and see me."
Despite an offer to call an ambulance, Korpaski decided it would be quicker to drive himself to the hospital where he says he was ushered in immediately and diagnosed with the aneurysm.
"They told me I was extremely lucky to be alive and if I hadn't got here quickly, I would have most likely died."
Korpaski says he underwent surgery the following day and remains at Kelowna General Hospital recuperating. He says his prognosis is good.
After two weeks Korpaski remains bitter with the way he was treated at the walk-in-clinic - that his life was reduced to a mere $50.
"If I hadn't got to the hospital I could have died. Who are they to choose a life over a $50 charge that I was willing to pay but I couldn't pay."
"I was absolutely surprised I had that ($50 charge) I had received no letters from anybody asking for this to be paid."
He says he had no idea he would be denied medical attention over $50.
Dr. David Goldberg, one of the owners of Lakeshore Medical Centre says his clinic has a policy that, "anybody in dire need of medical assistance gets it regardless of whether they have a care card or anything."
He acknowledges there was an outstanding bill and says his staff is instructed in situations like this to ask for payment before a patient sees a physician except in cases of emergency.
"Clearly that communication between the patient and the staff wasn't clear that he was in a dire emergent situation," says Goldberg.
While he was not in the office at the time of the incident Dr. Goldberg says he was told Korpaski was asked if he was 'in distress' to the point he felt he needed immediate medical attention and declined it.
"My staff remembers that quite clearly. Then he put up the big fuss," stated Dr. Goldberg.
"According to my staff one of our physicians came forward just to check because when you get a bit off commotion at the front desk and, I think they asked the same question whether the person was in need of immediate attention and again was told it wasn't that type of an emergency."
He says he was told the doctor actually said we can call an ambulance for you if you like.
"He refused that and I think stormed out at that point."
Dr. Goldberg adds that in this case Korpaski was better off in the hospital than at the clinic.
"If he didn't have the specific symptoms that would have triggered the physicians to warrant a phone call or sending him by ambulance to the hospital he could have ended up going home and having a much more serious problem," says Dr. Goldberg.
"While I'm sure he isn't happy with the way this situation turned he may have gotten lucky."
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