Concord heart patient billed by ambulance company for waiting time

CONCORD, Calif. (KGO) -- They say time is money. That's apparently true even when it comes to medical transports.

A Concord woman nearly died of a heart attack. Then she got the bill from an ambulance company.

Shea Halligan enjoys the bouquet of flowers she received on her 61st birthday.

It's a birthday the Concord woman thought she would not live to see after a heart attack that was followed by three others.

"The cardiologist didn't think I was going to make it," said Shea.

Her husband, Joe, appreciates every moment he has with his wife.

He recalls the first heart attack happened in September at The Counter Restaurant in Walnut Creek.

Joe looked over and screamed for help.

Another patron he now calls "John the Lifesaver" jumped into action performing CPR.

Joe is overcome with emotion talking about it.

"John jumped up and came over and saved her life," he said tearfully.

An ambulance would later rush her to John Muir Hospital in Walnut Creek.

By the next day, doctors transferred Shea to John Muir in Concord where they have a Cardiovascular Institute.

Today Shea is on the mend and back at home.

"I love her. I mean it's a miracle," her husband said.

The bill from Pro Transport-1 for that transfer would include three units of wait time for a total of $1800.

"We received this bill. I said what is waiting time. They said we had to wait for you and so that was the majority of the bill," said Shea.

"Were they waiting to get her hair done?" asked Joe. "If you're waiting on the patient it's not the patient's fault. It's the hospital's fault they hadn't got something ready."

She said she called the company for an explanation, but complained about getting the runaround.

It wasn't long after that when she received a letter from Pro Transport-1 threatening to send her to collections.

She said a service rep even suggested she make the payment using her JC Penny's card.

"She says, well, we're going to go ahead and put this on your credit report unless you pay it now," Shea recalls.

She gave in and paid the disputed bill in full.

That left both her and Joe upset. Finally, he contacted 7 On Your Side and we contacted Pro Transport-1.

It told us "It looks like there was a billing error in the amount the patient was being balance billed for. Due to this error, we are going to discount the total amount paid."

A check for the full amount showed up in the mail in a matter of days.

"Thank God, there is someone out there that can speak for the little guy," said Joe.

"We're on a limited income, you know," she said in tears before thanking 7 On Your Side.

Joe & Shea recently returned to the Counter- the restaurant where her first heart attack occurred.

The couple had a reunion with John the Lifesaver. His real name is John Roberts.

They also met his wife Laurie, Counter manager John Freeman and hostess Evelyn Franklin, who both assisted with the CPR.

Gratitude all around.

See more stories from 7 On Your Side.
Copyright © 2019 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.