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‘I was patient zero’: Pasco man surprised by hospital bills after COVID-19 battle


WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (WFLA) -Pasco County’s first COVID-19 patient survived his battle with the coronavirus…but now he’s left to foot the bill from the hospital visit when he first got tested.

Gene DellaSala contacted 8 On Your Side after receiving a collection notice for the bill from his emergency room visit to find out if he indeed had the virus.

DellaSala contracted coronavirus when testing was still limited in Tampa Bay and tells 8 On Your Side the Pasco County Health Department directed him to get tested at Advent Health Hospital in Wesley Chapel.

“I was given no choice because I was patient zero,” DellaSala said.

He went to the emergency room on March 10.

“They tested me for not just COVID-19 but they tested me for pneumonia, they tested me for Influenza A and B, they ran chest x-rays,” Dellasala said.

While still infected and fighting the virus in early April, Dellasala says AdventHealth billed him for about $700 for a doctor visit and all those tests except the one confirming he had coronavirus.

“I came to the ER under the premise that you guys were gonna test me for COVID-19 and there wouldn’t be any cost,” DellaSala said.

The bigger shock, he says, came when he got a notice from a collection agency.

“Everybody is going through difficult times financially my revenues from my business is down 55 percent,” DellaSala said.

After 8 On Your Side reached out to a spokesperson for AdventHealth, Dellasala says the hospital left him a message saying the health department should never have told him his expenses would be covered.

DellaSala says he never got billed for subsequent COVID-19 tests by the health department and says he had several of them before finally testing negative two times in a row.

News Channel 8 will keep following his story as he awaits a resolution.


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