Daily archives: August 13th, 2008

Sen. Meeks Tells Kids to Stay Out of School

It’s off the deep end and off to la-la land with State Sen. James Meeks.  Meeks is struggling to find support for his grand plan to encourage kids to stay home from school at the start of the school year.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

State Sen. James Meeks (D-Chicago) met privately with the City Council’s Black Caucus last week to explain his plan to have hundreds of Chicago Public School students boycott the first four days of classes.

Implied, but not stated, was the fact that Meeks would like aldermanic support for his controversial tactics. Apparently, he’s not going to get it.

Aldermen are wise to stay away from this one.

Here is Meeks’ agenda for his four-day stay-out-of-school field trip:

On the first day of school, Sept. 2, Meeks plans to bus students up to the North Shore and attempt to enroll them in schools in Winnetka’s wealthy New Trier district.

The remaining three days—Sept. 3, 4 and 5—will be spent having boycotting students camp out in the lobbies of Chicago’s most prominent downtown businesses. They include the Chicago Stock Exchange, the Mercantile Exchange, Chase Bank, Fifth Third Bank and the Aon Building.

The Chicago Public Schools have struggled for years trying to get kids to actually show up at all on the first day of school.  Teachers want to start the year off right, establish a rapport with the students.  Meeks wants kids to join him on a screaming publicity stunt to Winnetka in a futile attempt to register for classes out of district.

This can only end poorly.

Here’s what’s going to happen:

Meeks will get a busload or two of kids and parents to join him on this quest.  He may even have a better showing than that the first day.  The second day, there will be less participation.  By days three and four, the good senator will be able to get by with a van or perhaps a station wagon.  Most kids will stay home from classes, taking advantage of the extra mornings to sleep late.  Children will thank the Rev. Meeks for extending summer vacation, if they even know who he is.  Gov. Blagojevich and Meeks’ colleagues in the Illinois State Legislature, the only people in the Land of Lincoln who can make a difference, will largely ignore his antics.

Meeks is completely right about the inequities in educational opportunities in Illinois.  His four day holiday for students will accomplish nothing and sends the wrong message.

‘Calling Dr. Bombay!’ St. James Emergency Docs Outsource Billing

I just hung up the phone with India.

I received a phone call regarding a bill I received for emergency room services in February at St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights.  When I returned the call, I was greeted by a kind person with a slight accent.  I couldn’t quite place the accent, but didn’t think it would be much of a barrier.

Was I ever wrong.

I read my account number to the person answering the phone.  She asked me for my name, and asked if I had been treated by an emergency room physician.

At this point, I grew suspicious. Any other time I call to pay a bill, after I read my account number, the person finally tells me my name, indicating that they have the correct account.

I asked this professional to tell me the name she had on the account.  She read me a woman’s name.  She asked me if I had was treated by an emergency room physician.  I told her she should be telling me that information, and the name she read to me was not mine, nor did it belong to anyone at my residence.

She asked me again if I had been treated in an emergency room.  I told her, yes, in February.  She again asked me my name.

I asked to speak with a supervisor.  I was told I was speaking with the Emergency Room Physicians billing service, and would I please tell her my name.  I asked her if she was in the United States.  Who is the doctor who sent the bill?

“No, sir.  We are in India.”  And no name for the doctor.

I told her I was unaware of any physician who billed from India.  Could I speak with a supervisor, please?  She asked me my name again, and finally provided me with the name of the attending physician.

At this point, I assured her I was very suspicious of the call, and told her I was going to call the police.  I was suspicious that she was possibly someone phishing for my credit card information. My call was then passed to a supervisor who asked for an account number.  The supervisor told me the name on the account — this time it was my name — and verified for me the name of the attending physician.  I did not recognize the name of the doctor, but, since this was all about a trip to the emergency room, I did not expect that I would remember his name.

I hung up the phone and called St. James Hospital in Chicago Heights directly after trying unsuccessfully to find a number for the doctor online.  After speaking with two business offices and being told my accounts were up to date and paid, I was referred to another number that handled billing for the emergency room physicians’ accounts.

That number belonged to my new friends in India.

Look, I’m all for a global economy, but this is downright absurd.  I get it that sometimes I have to talk to India to get tech support for my PC, but now I have to talk to India to talk about my hospital bill?

Give me a break.