Cop Hits Cop


This morning I went in my power wheelchair to the Downtown Farmers Market. After purchasing beets, squash, zinnias and gladiolas, I headed home. About 11:25 a.m. I was sitting in the bike path headed east at a red light at the intersection of Water and Townsend Streets when there was a major explosive KABAM as two cars struck.

I looked up and saw that the light on Water Street was still red. A Syracuse Police Department patrol car coming down Water Street headed west had just run the red light. There were no lights, sirens, high speed or any other indication that the SPD patrol car was responding to an emergency.

The patrol car had struck a black four-door sedan that was traveling north on Townsend Street. It spun the car around 180 degrees, The driver—a middle-aged, overweight, balding man wearing a white shirt and black pants—got out and went over to the patrol car. When the driver turned back toward his car, a badge and gun were visible at his waistband.

The patrol car driver moved his vehicle over to the curb. Almost immediately, another patrol car arrived from the north on Townsend Street. This second patrol car pushed the black car out of the intersection, then someone picked up most of the debris from the middle of the intersection.

Yesterday I saw a report on the Malaysian jetliner site in the Ukraine where they were lamenting the absence of any independent forensic researchers and the fact that pieces of debris were being removed from the crash site, thereby making it impossible to piece together the facts of what had happened.

What happened at the corner of Townsend and Water Streets this morning will depend entirely on the verbal reports of the two men involved.

And, of course, the innocent bysitter, me.

When I left the scene, two uniformed police officers, the fellow with the badge and gun, and two other men were standing in a group talking. There did not appear to be any personal injury. On the black car, the front and back passenger-side doors were both crushed in. Parts of a fender, some grillwork and other material had been in the intersection.

Imagine if the police officer who ran the red light had hit a car driven by your mother.

Posted in Government Services, Transportation, Values | Tagged , | Leave a comment

“He and others”: The Post-Standard on Rt. 81


This morning’s Post-Standard, as read on Syracuse.com, leads with a story headlined “Syracuse power brokers pushing I-81 tunnel, boulevard instead of elevated highway,” written by Teri Weaver with contributions from Sean Kirst under the auspices of managing editor Stan Linhorst.

I am very interested in knowing who are the “Syracuse power brokers” and I am interested in knowing what they are pushing, so I read the story and here’s who Weaver writes about (all direct quotes):
• key power brokers
• political leaders, business leaders and several civic organizations
• Destiny USA mall execs
• nobody with clout
• Department of Transportation
• DOT
• Destiny USA
• the region’s state lawmakers and the SAVE 81 group of business owners.
• DOT transportation officials
• Destiny USA officials and other key local leaders
• public sentiment and private conversations
• many community leaders
• elected officials, business leaders, labor unions and developers
• state’s Department of Transportation
• Some people
• readers on Syracuse.com
• Other key people and institutions . . . Syracuse University, and Upstate Medical University
• community leaders
• the state
• State officials
• other state officials
• two camps
• Destiny USA executives, state lawmakers, the building and trades unions, and an advocacy group SAVE 81
• ReThink 81, and Moving People Transportation Coalition
• The state
• DOT officials
• he and others

I am appalled. I thought that a news reporter’s job was to ask people questions, write down their names, positions and what they said, then write a story using that information. Instead, what I find is that the reporter is saying a lot of things that aren’t attributed to anyone. This is a reporter’s editorial, not a news story.

The story is exactly 1000 words in length; clearly, an assignment editor said something like “Give me a thousand words on Rt. 81” and Weaver did exactly that. The first one-third of the story does not contain a single quote. The remainder of the story has the following quotes:
• “It seems pretty uniform that no one wants the overhead structure to stay,” Kenan [Destiny Mall] said referring to many community leaders.
• “Frankly, I haven’t heard a large number of stakeholders say that a larger, wider highway through the city is a good idea,” said Rob Simpson, who heads CenterstateCEO,
• “We’re favoring the hybrid plan,” said Mark Nicotra, the Salina supervisor who helped form SAVE 81
• “I think what these two latest versions show: all of the plans from the DOT were unsatisfactory,” said Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature.
• “I think people are looking at the six of these and saying, ‘I don’t like any of them,’” said Tony Mangano, who owns the Ramada Inn “They’re all tied for sixth place.”
• “You don’t have to accept what we’re recommending,” DOT’s I-81 Project Director Frechette said “That’s why we’re here today.”
• “Even if it is more expensive, this is a long, long term solution,” DeFrancisco said. “It seems to me it’s something that to be considered.”
• “Absolutely,” DeFrancisco said “You’re going to hear a lot more people in favor of (a viaduct).”

That’s 182 words out of the 1000 that were written. Why are the direct statements of these people being buried in 818 other words? There are references to “Department of Transportation, DOT, DOT transportation officials, state’s Department of Transportation, the state, State officials, other state officials, the state, and DOT officials.” Man, that sounds heavy. This Teri Weaver person must have spent a lot of time on the phone talking to a lot of people and she really knows what she’s writing about, right?

Then how come it all comes down to one person and one quote: “You don’t have to accept what we’re recommending,” DOT’s I-81 Project Director Frechette said “That’s why we’re here today.”

The published story gives me every reason to believe that the reporter doesn’t know shit and that the Post-Standard is manipulating public opinion instead of reporting the facts. I want names, job titles and direct quotes and you know why I want them?

So I can hold people accountable. I want to know who said what so that I can judge for myself the value of the statement. Also, I want to be able to act as a citizen and follow up with these “power brokers.” I want to be able to write letters, make phone calls, or go visit these people so I can influence their decision-making and broke some power, too.

One of the things citizens hate the most is being manipulated by a handful of powerful people. Decisions we don’t like are being made in secret by people we can’t identify. The proper function of a good newspaper is to name people and report what they say so that active citizens can follow up. The Post-Standard doesn’t do this.

The Post-Standard comes from a long history of publishers Stephen Rogers and Stephen A. Rogers, father and son, using the newspapers to support their particular interests. “Syracuse power brokers” definitely includes Stephen A. Rogers, yet he is never named or quoted in this story. Perhaps the story in its entirety is to push Rogers’ personal agenda.

During the special prosecutor’s investigation of political corruption in Onondaga County in the 1980’s, the Syracuse Newspaper’s aggressive campaign was to (a) label the investigation a witch-hunt, (b) not report court decisions that favored the prosecution and (c) maintain an editorial posture that fully supported government officials who were found guilty under the law.

When a “60 Minutes” researcher read the Syracuse newspaper reports and the documents emanating from the court, he concluded that the Syracuse newspapers were acting to conceal the truth from the citizens. Stephen Rogers, the father, was the publisher.

It is the right and the responsibility of the citizens to make the decisions that affect their lives together. The citizens cannot do this without accurate information.

The Post-Standard continues its long practice of denying truth to the people. You will find more truth on Internet blogs than in the Post-Standard. That is one of the reasons why the Post-Standard is losing its circulation and tumbling into bankruptcy.

This opinion of the author has been exactly 1000 words.

Posted in activism, Onondaga County, political corruption, Power, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good News, Chariot’s Comin’


Yesterday I went to see a new doctor—not my most favorite thing. It was only about eight blocks away from my apartment so I wheeled over, thereby saving you $53 in round-trip Medicaid transportation expenses. This is one good reason for you to pay for my power wheelchair—it cuts expenses. As I wheeled, my stomach started churning, informing me that I was facing a new medical practice, this one being Associated Medical Professionals of NY, most particularly A.M.P. Urology: I was going to get my catheter changed.

You will recall the history of this: Dr. Tucker, chief of hospitalists at St. Joseph’s Hospital, ordered the indwelling catheter so that I could get some sleep. Because of the nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, I’d been getting up to pee every two hours every night for ten years and I was pretty tired. Based on nothing more than uninterrupted sleep, my kidney function improved dramatically.

Prior to the advent of Dr. Tucker, a quarter-million physicians had refused to order an indwelling catheter because, first, they said it was not medically necessary. Sleep is not medically necessary? Oh my, my, my, what morons physicians be. And, second, that I would get a urinary tract infection. Yeah, but first I would get uninterrupted sleep, which is where most healing takes place, so what’s your problem? “We will not treat you appropriately now because it might make you sick in the future.” Yeah, and I might get hit by a truck tomorrow. Doctors always think they are great prognosticators; they are usually wrong. Deal with what’s in front of you, not something you imagine might happen someday.

So I got my catheter and the nurses from the Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) came and changed it once a month based on physicians saying that it needed to be changed every thirty days to prevent infection. Then the VNA nurse screwed up, management kicked me out without asking for my side of the story, I filed a complaint with the NYS Dept. of Health, which investigated and found the VNA to be non-compliant with regulations. Well, how about that?

So I moved on to getting my catheter changed at Dr. Tucker’s office until he and I had a parting of the ways, then I spent eight hellacious months shuttling between Iroquois Nursing Home and Crouse Hospital, which took care of the catheter changing business. Then—exit the Year of the Beast—I left Crouse AMA (Against Medical Advice) and went home.

At home, I had no one to change the catheter. On April 2, I went to the Syracuse Community Health Center where they referred me to Upstate Medical Center’s Nephrology Clinic. It is now July 15 and I’m still waiting to be seen there. Meanwhile, every month I go to Crouse PromptCare and they tell me they won’t change the catheter. Then they change the catheter and refer me to someplace else.

The first referral was upstairs to their own internal medicine office, which refused to take me because they don’t treat poor people, that is, they don’t accept Medicare and Medicaid. Why did we even pass the Medicaid law? Didn’t anybody think to ask doctors if they would accept it? They won’t, so why all the fuss and fury for a system that simply doesn’t work?

Crouse PromptCare’s next two referrals were to doctors who do a cash-only business. Seriously. My monthly income is $834 and physicians charge about $275 for first appointments. It’s about the money, people. Physicians do not treat the sick; they treat middle and upper class people who have money.

So now I am wheeling down the street to Crouse PromptCare’s latest referral, A.M.P. Urology, which actually accepts Medicare and Medicaid, and has real live physicians who treat poor people, not residents with 15 minutes of experience.

At A.M.P., I find four women who all do both admission and discharge, no waiting. I fill out most of the paperwork and when I refuse to sign away my rights on one sheet of paper, nobody gets excited or treats it as a big deal. Then I am escorted to the bathroom for a urine sample and thence into a second waiting room. I’ve been in four thousand physician’s waiting rooms but this is the first one that’s had external and internal waiting rooms. Then I get passed into a treatment room where a nurse does her usual thing and without getting stupid about it, e.g., in an Upstate clinic, the nurse asked me “How are you?” I replied “Tired” and she responded “Good.” She had learned to not pay any attention to anything a patient said.

But at AMP Urology, the staff members were not plastic people; they were real and they were paying attention. So the nurse and I went through the usual stuff and then she left the room. Shortly thereafter, she returned and winsomely asked me why I had an indwelling catheter. Good question. My answer was “To get some sleep at night. I put out a whole lot of urine.” That answer satisfied her and she danced away, presumably to report it to the physician, who appeared in a couple minutes: Dr. Sasha Pavlov, whose parents were Russian but, having grown up in Buffalo, N.Y., he was as American as peanut butter.

The first thing Dr. Pavlov tells me is that the catheter doesn’t need to be changed every month, just every six to eight weeks. He says that the infamous “studies show” that there is no down-side to changing catheters less frequently. In fact, doing it less frequently makes it less likely that you will introduce infection-causing bacteria. And speaking of infection, Dr. Pavlov doesn’t.

Always trying to be a helpful patient, I had brought a copy of my latest laboratory reports. Last week those reports caused the Good Doctor to say “Oh, my God” at least three times, and my-friend-the-physician to say, “Queenie, I am very worried that this is all going to blow up and result in sepsis.” The urinalysis reports nitrites, excessive red blood cells, bacteria, budding yeast and amorphous crystals. I have been running scared, using everything I know to get ahead of the infection that mayhaps be killing me. So I ask Dr. Pavlov about the urinary tract infection and he says, “What infection? Do you have pain?”

“No” I say.

“Do you have a fever?” He asks.

“No,” I say.

“Are you bleeding?”

“No.”

“So you don’t have an infection,” he says. “What you have is an indwelling catheter, which causes colonies of stuff to grow but that’s not the same as an infection.”

“Bu-bu-but, the lab reports,” I stutter.

And, as Dr. Pavlov leaves the room, he says, “We don’t treat paperwork; we treat people.”

I wheel out into the sunshine, grinning. I do not have a potentially fatal urinary tract infection. I am perfectly healthy, if a little uniquely weird.

Good news, Chariot’s comin’
Good news, Chariot’s comin’
Good news, Chariot’s comin’
And I don’t want it to leave me behind.

Posted in American medical industry, Medicaid, Medical care, Medicare, physician, Poverty, Transportation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Status Update


My energies currently are devoted to producing a book on depression, drugs, psychiatry and recovery, circa 1971-2013. Chapter first-paragraphs are previewed on my Facebook page. Hopefully, before the summer is out the book will be available for sale. What’s your preference—hardcover, Kindle, some other electronic form? Please let me know.

Meanwhile, please know that the homeopathic remedies seem to be working. Allopathic medicine has taught us to expect quick fixes to our medical problems. The homeopaths with whom I am working tell me it will take six months to a year to effect a fix—if I live that long. Currently, my glucose is through the roof, my kidney function is failing and I have a really bad urinary tract infection, but I do feel better overall. I’ve only been taking the remedies for two months, so I am required to be patient. That’s not my strong suit but producing a book is a good way to keep myself in bed and working at the same time.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

From Dr. Eastwood, Sorta


Today, July 2, I received a letter from Upstate University Hospital dated June 26. Herewith an exact facsimile:

Dear Ms. Woodlen:

Please have this serve as notification that we are in receipt of your correspondence to Dr. Gregory Eastwood [http://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2014/06/18/to-dr-eastwood-interim-president-upstate/ and http://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2014/06/22/to-dr-eastwood-interim-president-upstate-part-ii/%5D dated June 18, 2014 of which we received on June 24, 2014 regarding several concerns you have had while being seen in the Rheumatology Clinic at University Health Care Center (UHCC).

We will be conducting a review of your concerns and will respond to you within thirty (30) working days. If you have any further questions or concerns I encourage you to contact me at . . .

Sincerely,
Karen A. Wentworth, M.S.W., Director
PATIENTSfirst! Patient Relations & Guest Services

My “several concerns” included Neuroimmunology, Adult Medicine, the Joslin Diabetes Center, and the Nephrology Clinic, in addition to the Rheumatology Clinic. Oh well, maybe Ms Wentworth didn’t read the whole letter.

Then, a couple of minutes after I read her letter, I got a phone call from Joslin Diabetes Center offering to have Dr. Kelly see me this afternoon. Two problems with that: Medicaid transportation requires three days’ notice, and this afternoon I have an appointment with The Good Doctor, and I will never give up a guaranteed platinum appointment to take a chance on an unknown.

So the clinical manager says Dr. Kelly will be on vacation next week, and we’ll work on something for later.

I have no editorial comment to make.

Posted in American medical industry, Medical care, physician, Poverty, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Dr. Howard’s Problem?


On April 2 I saw Dr. Myles Howard at Syracuse Community Health Center (SCHC). (I had previously seen him once about three years ago.) He told me that SCHC did not do catheter changes and referred me to Upstate Medical Center’s nephrology clinic. It took three weeks for the referral to leave his office.

I need catheter supplies, which includes two catheter bags a month, so I called Byram Healthcare and placed my monthly order, giving Byram the name of my new primary care physician. When the order was not forthcoming then I called them again. This time they told me that they had faxed a request for a prescription twice to Dr. Howard.

So I called SCHC and the physician’s nurse told me that there were a pile of faxes next to the fax machine, and another pile of faxes in the doctor’s mailbox. I really needed a script for my catheter supplies. You know what they tell you do it if your cath bag starts to leak, e.g., spout urine all over your living room rug?

They tell you to call an ambulance and go to the hospital. That costs you, the citizen/taxpayer, about $1500—about a thousand for the ambulance and about $500 for the Emergency Room. I don’t need the grief and you don’t need the bill. All that is needed is for the doctor to fax a prescription to the supply company then I will get two cath bags, each costing about $45, and I can change them at home in my bathroom.

So I ask the nurse if she will pull my fax out of the pile and put it in front of the doctor for his signature. She snaps, “I don’t have time for that!”

So my Power of Attorney (POA) figures that the Syracuse Community Health Center has screwed up somewhere along the line while I posit the possibility that Byram has screwed up. POA goes to visit SCHC and talk to the nurse. I call Byram.

This time I talk to an unusually competent young woman who investigates my order and tells me that the two faxes were sent but not to any phone number.

“Say what?” I ask. “You mean they were just faxed out into the ether? Sent to the universe without any specific address?”

“Yeah,” she says, “something like that.” Then she gets busy and finds the correct fax number for the doctor at the SCHC. The doctor, the nurse, the POA, me and Byram all agree that Byram will sent it right away to SCHC and the nurse will be watching for it and the doctor will send the prescription right away and then I will get the supplies within five business days. It only took five people, one personal visit and about three hours but, by God, we’ve got it licked.

Except that UPS doesn’t deliver any supplies.

The great day that we all focused our attention on solving this problem was June 10. On or about June 23, I call Byram again. They tell me that they faxed the request for a prescription to SCHC and Dr. Howard on June 10 and again on June 18. And Dr. Howard still hasn’t sent a script.

I’m not sure what happened next. Maybe I called the nurse. Maybe the POA did. Maybe I called SCHC administration. My chronic hyperglycemia, acute urinary tract infection and worsening chronic kidney disease—not to mention the summer’s high humidity—are all sucking the life out of me and my memory is getting squishy.

And then, on Wednesday, June 25, I get a call from the nurse. She says the doctor has just signed the prescription, and he will no longer be my doctor.

WTF?

When a physician kicks a patient out of his practice, he has to do it with a certified letter that states he only will provide emergency care for one month. When physicians write this letter, they do not have to give a reason and 90% of them don’t. This is not about two mature adults having a reasonable conversation about their working relationship. This is one autocratic doctor yelling, “Off with her head!” And it is particularly problematic because I have an appointment on June 27, two days hence, to get the physical exam that is required by the county in order to maintain my eligibility for home health aides, of which I am in desperate need.

So I talk to the Good Doctor, who looks slightly incredulous that SCHC, which is the bottom of the barrel, has kicked me out, but he volunteers to do the physical. He is a psychiatrist but says he thinks he can still do this.

Then I talk to my friendly local chiropractor who apparently never has kicked a patient out of his practice. In fact, he continues to treat a thoroughly disagreeable fellow who also was kicked out of SCHC.

I talk to my-friend-the-physician (MFTP) and ask him why they send this certified letter. He doesn’t really know why. He’s done it, but says it’s only because that’s the way it’s done. Custom and habit. MFTP suggests that maybe the NYS Dept. of Health (DOH), which licenses physicians, requires it. Or maybe the DOH Office of Professional Conduct does. Or maybe it’s the American Medical Association.

I say, bitterly, “Or maybe the letter is just sent to cover your ass so you don’t get sued.” No, he says, it’s not that. He will ask some questions, try to figure out why, and get back to me.

What I have learned in my years as an activist is that when somebody screws with you then you go over that person’s head to get un-screwed—and nobody knows who has effective authority over physicians. They, like God, cannot be held accountable for their actions.

Then my psychologist comes to see me. She is also a doctor, although not a physician, and she declares that she, too, has written the certified letter kicking people out of her practice. She says she’s only done it to patients who have stopped keeping their appointments, and it’s done to prevent the provider from getting charged with abandonment—abandoning a patient being considered a very seriously bad thing in the medical and psychological professions.

So I’ve been abandoned by “my” doctor and nobody knows why or what to do about it. I haven’t seen or spoken to Dr. Howard in nearly three months, so what is his problem?

Posted in advocacy, American medical industry, Fraud, Medical care, physician, Powerlessness, Values | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beginning the Weekend


So the woman who was to start next week as my aide called this afternoon to say she won’t be coming to work. Something about her grandson having to go to summer school, and her son bringing him to her home to wait for the bus. Meanwhile, my trash is overflowing, the sink and counters are covered with dirty dishes, there are two loads of dirty laundry piled on my tiny bedroom floor, and I don’t remember when I last had a shower.

The county nurse says the call-out list to agencies for people needing home health aides is longer than it ever has been, but she refuses to say how many people are on the list. She thinks that might be a HIPAA violation. Agencies use HIPAA to hide behind, not to protect their patients.

The commissioner of Adult & Long Term Care says that he doesn’t have any plan to deal with the all the sick people who are living in their own filth because they can’t get aides. “I don’t know what to do,” he says; “I really don’t.” He took the job, with its power, prestige and big bucks, but he doesn’t know what to do for the people in his care who are extremely needful.

I would suggest that you start by raising the wages of home health aides so the job will become more desirable. Currently, the wage is about $10 an hour, and has been for longer than I can remember. The commissioner says that the wage rate for Medicaid aides is set by the state, and that to get the rate raised would mean going through the legislature and they won’t do anything. What I believe is that he hasn’t tried. He sits in his office—clean, well-groomed, and well-fed—and has no idea of the conditions of poor people who are dependent upon his office for services. We are not a reality to him.

As I write this, the humidity is 97%. The Good Doctor tells me that the Chinese have known for a thousand years that high humidity causes very bad trouble for people with autoimmune diseases or pain. His wife has lupus; with the high humidity, she can’t get out of bed. Neither can I; I am too tired and depressed. No help is coming and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.

Yesterday the nurse called to say the doctor at Syracuse Community Health Center won’t see me anymore. She wouldn’t say why. The doctor saw me exactly once, on April 2. He referred me to Upstate Medical Center’s nephrology clinic. It took three weeks for the referral to leave his office, and three months for me to get an appointment, which has now been changed to four months.

I have not seen or spoken to the doctor in two months: why is he now kicking me out? The kick-out is supposed to be done by certified letter, which the nurse knows, but the doctor hasn’t done it. And, anyway, why does it matter? Did you know that there is no appeal? There are not two sides to the story; the patient has no standing to protest. It is the American Medical Industry: they are right and the patient is wrong. Always. There is no recourse.

I am desperate for relief from the troubles inflicted on me by the high humidity. I call the homeopathic provider, who emails me that he called me but couldn’t leave a message. I have Time Warner, and have no idea why he couldn’t leave a message, or what to do about it. My Time Warner bill is higher than my rent.

So I have no hope of getting a home health aide. What do I do about that? Come on, somebody, help me out here. Tell me what to do. Give me a suggestion. There isn’t enough money in the system to hire enough aides to take care of the sick people.

I can’t get a doctor. There are none to be had for poor people, and doctors man the gateway to all kinds of services.

I have seen what money does. My mother was in exactly my circumstances except for one thing: my father made a goodly amount of money and left mom well-off. She lived in an upscale retirement home and was well-cared for by a large staff that was well-paid. Money got her a good life.

My Social Security income is below the federal poverty level. None of my basic needs are being met.

Five hours from now, I was supposed to have an appointment with the doctor to get the physical that the county requires in order to keep my aides. There are no aides; there will be no physical. Cancel transportation; give up on aides; lay in bed too sick to take a shower; run the air conditioning against the effects of the humidity, and when the electricity bill comes, how am I to pay it?

Extrapolating from the known, where does this all end?

Posted in American medical industry, Depression, Government Services, Medicaid, Medical care, Onondaga County, physician, Poverty, Powerlessness, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment