This summer, Minnesota mom Amber McCollough traveled to Colorado to deliver her conjoined twin daughters, knowing that one of them likely would not survive.
Hannah and Olivia were delivered by cesarean section on August 26 at Children’s Hospital Colorado. The little girls shared an abdomen, liver, and intestines, had one pelvis between them with two normal legs and one malformed leg, according to KUSA and the Denver Channel.
As expected, one of Amber’s daughters, Olivia, passed away after a five-hour surgery to separate the twins. At the time, McCollough sang the hospital’s praises on Facebook, grateful that the facility didn’t turn her away even though she couldn’t guarantee she’d be able to pay, and crediting their doctors with giving both her daughters a chance to live.
But by December, McCollough’s tune changed after an unspecified procedure on her surviving daughter.
“I was terrified and felt like everything was going wrong because it was. I had to stand there unheard, blown off, and terrified while my daughter (bled) profusely from her jugular. I said I was concerned with how long it took to call surgery. I said I was concerned with our sense of urgency. The charge nurse took great offense to my concerns and was incredibly rude. I thought I was watching my daughter die, that she wasn’t going to make it.”
KDVR indicated that the operation was related to an emergency surgery and that Amber believed that the hospital waited too long to perform the procedure, which took place on November 17. During that procedure, an incision in Hannah’s neck ruptured.
So McCollough filed a complaint with the Department of Health, saying she “just wanted to be heard.” Then, the unthinkable happened, according to McCollough: The hospital limited the hours she was allowed to visit her surviving daughter in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Six weeks later, they banned McCollough entirely.
On November 23, Amber was told she was allowed to see Hannah only three hours a day as part of a “behavior agreement,” which the hospital said in a statement is meant to “provide structure and support to families and treatment teams to foster healthy, cohesive teamwork during times of crisis and stress.”
This decision came only one business day after McCullough filed her complaint, and so her lawyer, James Avery, called the move revenge.
“Their rationale was that my nurses are afraid of saying the wrong thing in front of me and being sued and that that caused them to not want to work with my daughter thus impeding her care,” Amber said.
At that point, McCollough began working on transferring her daughter to a hospital in Boston. In mid-December, she discussed her plans with a nurse, who Amber claims became offended and told hospital administrators. Not long afterward, the hospital banned Amber entirely from seeing her daughter, claiming the young mother had violated this behavior agreement.
McCullough and Avery call the move retaliation as well. But the hospital informed her attorney that McCullough “was overheard making threats about treating physicians and how they’ll be ‘sorry’ for their decisions.” They also accused Amber of being “disruptive to staff and interfering with their ability to take care of other patients. The situation has become untenable and unworkable.”
Amber refutes that. A long time ago, she said, she learned “not to step foot in that place without a recorder in my bra”; those recordings, McCullough claims, prove she never said any such thing.
“This shouldn’t happen to anyone. This is a complete abuse of power and my daughter is sitting in a hospital room paying for it because she can’t have mom there.”
Since the conflict with McCollough erupted, the hospital has confirmed little about the restriction of Amber’s visiting hours or the eventual ban, citing HIPAA privacy regulations. But on late Tuesday, administrators reinstated her visiting rights (except Sunday through Tuesday) and prohibited her from recording “further conversations.”
Due to the ban, Amber intended to sue, which was another reason why administrators have declined to comment on the controversy. It’s not clear whether McCullough will move forward with the lawsuit now that her visiting hours have been restored.
[Photo via YouTube]