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July 31, 2014, 1:35 pm

Mom defends CHOP over billing flap

The mother of a Croatian child being treated at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said that the flap surrounding the price of treatment is a misunderstanding.

Dana Atanasovka Situm, who took her 5-year-old daughter Nora Situm to Children’s for a last-ditch experimental therapy for leukemia, apologized for the misunderstanding.

On Wednesday, the hospital made international headlines - and was denounced on Facebook by Croaitan supporters as “cruel” and “heartless” for appearing to tack on hundreds of thousands of dollars to the original price of treating Nora.

According to published reports, Situm said the hospital’s bill was for $575,000 and that $262,000 was added to cover five years of post-treatment care.

Situm said that there was a misunderstanding with hospital officials and pleaded with supporters to stop writing bad comments on the hospital’s Facebook page.

“I have to point out that during this large-scale humanitarian action, which lasted only for a few days, many e-mail addresses have been involved so that we didn´t even know whom the hospital sent a mail with the total amount needed for our Nora´s medical treatment,” Situm posted to CHOP’s Facebook page.

“Therefore, I apologize that due to all this hurry an omission occurred related to an unread mail concerning additional funds which was sent to the association. Therefore, I would like to ask all of you, for the sake of my child´s well-being, not to write any more bad comments on the hospital pages.”

CHOP would not discuss the specific case due to patient privacy issues. However, CHOP issued a statement regarding its policies around international medicine.

“CHOP’s process estimates the costs of treatment in advance and seeks payment at the time treatment begins. Additional follow-up clinical treatments are sometimes necessary and can be administered over several years, either at CHOP or back in the patient’s home country,” the statement read.

“CHOP does not charge for this follow-up clinical treatment at the time of initial treatment.  If the child is not further treated at CHOP, CHOP will never charge for the follow-up treatment.  However, CHOP attempts to explain those potential costs to patient families at the outset so they understand the financial issues they may be facing. We try to ensure that all international families understand the difference between the initial costs of treatment charged by CHOP, which does not change, and the potential future costs which will depend on future clinical treatments.

The experimental care is a gene therapy treatment developed by University of Pennsylvania researchers.

 

Contact staff writer Ayana Jones at (215) 893-5747 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .