After Duke Health loses woman's 54-year-old wedding rings, Troubleshooter steps in to help couple

DURHAM, N.C. (WTVD) -- A trip to the emergency room during the COVID-19 pandemic left a Durham woman without her engagement and wedding ring from more than 54 years ago.

In May while at home, Connie Kirby got terribly sick. She was rushed to the emergency room by ambulance and ended up being admitted into Duke Health for several days. While running some tests, her husband Earl says the doctor handed him some of her belongings.

"The doctor handed me this little plastic bag and said these are the earrings," he said.

Earl said nothing else was given to him, none of his wife's rings which included her engagement, wedding band, and an emerald birthstone ring from their kids.

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"I called the ER asked her where her clothes and rings were. They talked to the charge nurses in the ICU and they couldn't find anything," he said.

Besides Connie's rings, the clothes she came into the ER wearing were also missing.

The Kirbys filed a report with Duke Health for reimbursement for the missing items.

With the engagement and wedding bands being more than 54 years old, the Kirbys didn't have the original receipts. He provided Duke Health paperwork that showed the replacement cost for similar rings today.

With the total cost of the three rings, plus clothes, the Kirbys asked Duke for $14,460.

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"Of course you can't replace the sentimental value, we celebrated anniversary without the rings," Earl said.

The risk management for Duke University Health System responded by offering the Kirbys $3,600, stating in part in a letter: "Without appraisal documents or proof of purchase and photos, we have to make our offer based upon the average cost of these items."

Earl was not happy with the offer.

"They were going to just give me an average cost which is less than a fourth of which it would cost to replace," he said. "How can she tell me that's the average cost when she's not seen the rings, no idea what she's talking about."

Earl got in touch with Troubleshooter Diane Wilson and she got in touch with Duke Health who said they would look into it, and get in touch with the Kirbys.

"I'm satisfied to get the rings replaced, that's all I want," Earl said.

Duke Health worked directly with the Kirbys and the matter was resolved to Kirbys' satisfaction and they can now replace the rings that were lost.

Duke University Health System provided this statement: "Compassionate care is the highest objective for everyone at Duke University Health System. This includes providing appropriate stewardship of the items patients temporarily entrust us to safeguard. While the loss of a patient's possessions is extremely rare, we take breaches of this trust seriously and make every effort to ensure that patients are either reunited with their possessions or appropriately compensated for their loss."

The Troubleshooter Takeaway to remember is that if you have any type of medical stay, make sure you leave your valuables at home or with a loved one. This was an emergency case, where Connie was brought in via ambulance so that is tough to do.
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