Why was sick child turned away at doctor's office?

December 23, 2010 4:12:20 PM PST
No six-year-old wants to be sick on Christmas, but when Carson Seiber tried to see a doctor in Kingwood, the doctors office said no. The situation is very frustrating for U.S. Army Lt. Col. Patrick Seiber, who's a soldier currently serving in Afghanistan and can only do so much because of his location.

Six-year-old Carson is visiting his grandparents in Kingwood from Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and he needed to see a doctor.

His dad is in the Army and the Army insurance company sent them to a Kingwood doctor -- who wouldn't let them in. So on Thursday morning, we heard about it from a frustrated father spending Christmas fighting in a war zone.

"I am very proud of my daddy," Carson said. "He fights for our freedom."

When Carson got to his grandparents in Kingwood a few days ago, he didn't feel well.

"He started running a fever and not feeling well on Saturday," said his mother, Heather Seiber.

So the Army's insurance company sent them to Pediatric Associates of Kingwood. But when Heather called first thing Monday, the doctors there said no, we don't see one-time patients, even though they knew the situation.

"I did politely tell them he was in Afghanistan," Heather Seiber said. "Because sometimes I feel people look at that and want to help this military family."

"To find out something like this happens, it's darn irritating. It takes me away from my focus, what I have to do, day in and day out, to keep us on the ball as far as on the frontline of the War on Terror," Lt. Col. Seiber said in a phone interview.

The doctors who wouldn't see Carson wouldn't talk to Eyewitness News either. A public relations spokesperson for the clinic's owner, Texas Children's Hospital, sent us conflicting statements trying to explain why the door was shut to a soldier's sick child.

Their first statement said they were at maximum capacity Monday. But when we pointed out no one ever said that to Heather, the story from Texas Children's changed, and all of a sudden they remembered they don't see patients on a one-time only basis.

Carson got in to see another doctor in Porter later that afternoon, and hopefully by Christmas he'll be all better. His mother realizes this isn't the biggest thing in the world, but also wonders why this doctor's office couldn't bend the rules for a son whose father is in Afghanistan for Christmas.

"He puts his life on the line and a doctor here can't help my son," Heather Seiber said.

Carson will be OK. His dad called from Afghanistan this morning to be sure. They just didn't need one more thing to worry about this Christmas.

Texas Children's never told us they don't take the military insurance nor would they tell us if they took any other unscheduled walk-ins Monday, just that they wouldn't take Carson on a one-time basis.

Below are the two statements from the hospital:

First statement from Texas Children's:

"Texas Children's Pediatric Associates is dedicated to delivering comprehensive, quality primary care to the children of the community. In this situation, a family contacted us for an appointment for their child and because we were at maximum capacity we were unable to work this child in. However, our staff offered to refer them to another health care provider in the area. It would not have been in the best interest of this child or our scheduled patients, to take someone in that we could not care for appropriately in a timely manner."

Second statement from Texas Children's:

"Kingwood Pediatric Associates is a community-based practice dedicated to delivering comprehensive, quality primary care to its patients. The physicians have made the decision that, in order to meet the care and medical needs of their existing patients, they do not see patients on a one-time only basis. In this situation, a family contacted us for an appointment for their child. Because we were at maximum capacity and the request was for a one-time sick visit, we were unable to see this child. However, our staff offered to refer them to another health care provider in the area. It would not have been in the best interest of this child or our scheduled patients to take someone in that we could not care for appropriately in a timely manner."


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