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Hospital Asks More Of Wayne Woman Missing Fingers

Karen Kwiecinski of Wayne owes Hackensack University Medical Center $3,000 in copays. If she gave them the money, she "wouldn't have a dime to live on," she said. Photo Credit: Karen Kwiecinski
Karen Kwiecinski gets some cheering up after one of her surgeries this summer. Photo Credit: Brett Ranges
Kwiecinski holds the stack of medical bills she received just this month from Hackensack University Medical Center. Photo Credit: Karen Kwiecinski

WAYNE, N.J. — More daunting than the fact that Karen Kwiecinski of Wayne won’t have all of her fingers again is that she’s not sure she’ll ever have the funds to pay the hospital that helped her heal.

All the New Milford native has to do to put her confounding illness in the past is come up with $3,000 worth of co-pays for Hackensack University Medical Center.

“It’s just funny,” said Kwiecinski, 42. “Insurance covered $250,000 for me and [HUMC] is still asking me for more.

“If I pay them that then I won’t have a dime to live on.”

More than $9,200 had been raised as of Saturday evening on a GoFundMe page to help Kwiecinski fight her financial battle.

Kwiecinski has endured 125 sessions of hyperbaric oxygen chamber treatments for wound care, specifically for one on her toe from a procedure performed last November.

The operation was the tail end of a journey that began in November 2014, when debilitating full-body pain sent Kwiecinski to the hospital — and then back again almost 100 times in the year that followed.

Doctors still don’t know what caused the illness that resulted in several vein grafts, two finger amputations, trial chemotherapy treatments and a daily dose of bottomless hospital bills delivered right to her doorstep.

They call it “Kwiecinski Syndrome,” as Karen seems to be the only one to have it.

“It’s a new normal,” said Kwiecinski of recovery. “I’ve always been a happy energetic person — a crazy red head.

“This is just what it is and it’s out of my hands," she said. "No pun intended.”

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