AURORA, Colo. — Six weeks after Childrenâ€™s Hospital Colorado restricted Amber McCulloughâ€™s visiting hours to see her own daughter, she now has been barred entirely from the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
The move came Sunday after McCullough said she told a nurse she was looking forward to transferring her 4-month-old daughter Hannah to Boston Childrenâ€™s Hospital and getting a second opinion for her care.
â€œThis 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,â€ McCullough said in an exclusive interview with FOX31 Denver.
McCullough gave birth to conjoined twins on Aug. 26, knowing only one could survive separation surgery. Hannahâ€™s sister Olivia died at birth.
McCullough, a native of Minnesota, praised the staff of Childrenâ€™s Hospital Colorado at the time but relations turned frosty three months later.
‘Behavior agreement’ imposed
McCulloughâ€™s visiting access was restricted on Nov. 23 to three hours per day after the hospital imposed a “behavior agreement.”
McCullough and her attorney James Avery called the action a case of retaliation because it came one business day after McCullough filed a complaint with the state health department.
McCullough blamed the hospital for waiting too long to perform emergency surgery on Nov. 17 after an incision in her daughterâ€™s neck ruptured.
Now McCullough said Childrenâ€™s Hospital is retaliating again.
â€œIt’s retaliation over the transfer. They’ve made it very clear that they’re not happy about the prospect of transfer,” McCullough said.
McCullough has been working on a transfer to Boston Childrenâ€™s Hospital since her access to Hannah was limited in November.
She claims on Saturday a nurse asked her if she had applied to Medicaid to pay for the transfer to Boston.
â€œI expressed my position that Boston is better able to provide the most appropriate care for her because theyâ€™re ranked top five in all of [Hannah’s] specialty needs,â€ said McCullough, who claims the nurse got offended and apparently complained to hospital administration.
â€œHow is discussing my daughterâ€™s transfer with her care team a violation of a so-called behavior contract?â€ McCullough asked.
In an email to Avery, the hospital claims McCullough violated her behavior agreement. Among other things the email states McCullough, â€œwas overheard making threats about treating physicians and how theyâ€™ll be ‘sorry’ for their decisions.”
â€œI never said that,â€ said McCullough, who added she can prove it because she has been recording all of her conversations at the hospital. â€œItâ€™s on recording, 100 percent.â€
McCullough said itâ€™s possible she might not see her daughter until sheâ€™s transferred to Boston and that could take a couple of weeks because of insurance issues.
She said last week she finally obtained medical records telling her Hannah has an enlarged heart and suffered fractured ribs, neither of which she was told about.
â€œItâ€™s not that I donâ€™t ask questions. Itâ€™s not that Iâ€™m an uninvolved parent. Clearly my asking questions has gotten me in a lot of trouble,â€ McCullough said.
Childrenâ€™s Hospital Colorado refused to discuss the matter with FOX31 but did provide a statement:
â€œIt is the hospitalâ€™s policy to refrain from discussing matters when a patient or patient family member has filed a Notice of Claim, notifying the hospital of an intent to sue. In addition, with respect to the privacy of the patient and family and in compliance with HIPAA privacy regulations, Childrenâ€™s Hospital Colorado is not able to release any further information concerning this patient.”