KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A veteran in home hospice care asks why he was given an uncomfortable bed, now he has one simple request. Michael Helm says in his “final days,” he wants a bed like he had at the hospital.
Beginning in 1965, Helm, served four years in the Navy. The retired general contractor is a widower and now he’s dying from several diseases. He moved to Knoxville to be closer to his family. The 73-year-old recently completed a cycle of chemotherapy, unfortunately, it didn’t work.
For the second time since January 3rd, Helm will be cared for by a second hospice group. Just before Christmas, he had been in a hospital setting where everything went fine, he said. But as he was moved home, Helm says he was promised a hospital bed similar to the one he had. But what was delivered is a basic homecare bed, not what he had been told.
“You are going home for hospice and you will have a bed exactly like that, which was a real comfortable hospital bed.”
“What do you have here?” asked Don Dare.
“Oh, this is nothing like it. This is a piece of crap,” replied Helm. Daren Helm, who acts as his father’s caregiver, said, “The first night his right leg slipped out, his air came off and his head was pinching the top left side rail.”
With a new hospice group caring for Michael, he asked them could he get another bed?
“I said, ‘Will my new bed, will it be better than this? Won’t it? They said, afraid not. It’s going to be about the same.”
The family has been told that Medicare, Michael’s health care provider, only pays for this style of bed. No other is covered under his Medicare hospice benefit.
“I guess that’s just the status quo. It doesn’t make sense to me, the final journey of someone’s life, why should you get downgraded?” said Daren. “My dad, he’s really selfless. He’s worried about everyone who is going to come after him.”
Daren ordered and paid $5,000 for a Hill-Rom bed, but it won’t be delivered until sometime next week. In his last few days, Mr. Helm would like to sleep in a comfortable bed.
“When I was talking to the new nurse today, I said, how long do you think it will take? Because I want to go home. Not here, I want to be with my wife,” said Daren.
The hospice bed provided to Michael is covered by Medicare, his health care provider. What we found out is that under his Medicare hospice benefit, the plan only pays for the bed he received, not the more expensive Hill-Rom bed that he would like to have.
Michael’s former and present hospice care providers tell us they are committed to providing compassionate care and they work with patients to address specific needs. However, if a patient is not satisfied with a bed covered by Medicare, or any other provider, they can purchase a different bed independently out of their own pocket.