Photo: David Plunkert
by Paula Span
“In April, Nancy Niemi entered Vidant Medical Center in Greenville, N.C., with cardiac problems. She stayed four nights, at one point receiving a coronary stent.
“Then she went home, but felt faint and took several falls. Five days later, her primary care doctor sent her back to the hospital. This time, her stay lasted 39 days while physicians tried various medications to regulate her blood pressure.
“Though they eventually succeeded, Mrs. Niemi, 84, a retired insurance agent, had grown so weak that she could no longer walk.
“They said, ‘She really needs to go to a skilled nursing facility for physical therapy,’ recalled her son Tom Krpata, 63, who’d come from his home in Holliston, Mass., to be with her.
“He agreed, but soon learned one of the brutal truths of Medicare policy:”
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