Part II: Ask for a Social Worker, Get a Nurse

In the afternoon of July 24, Visiting Nurse Association Director Amor Bango called again to inform me of the terms of termination—30 days for this, denial of that, nursing visit on the 30th, etc.  I told her that I had been referred to Hospice and she should go to hell. 

At no time did Bango ever write down the termination information and mail it to me so that I could try to absorb the information when I was able, or give it to the man who holds my Health Care Proxy and Power of Attorney and who had been present at the meeting with Dr. Tucker.

Later it finally dawned on me that this had all started because I asked for a social worker and the VNA sent a nurse.  I could not get a social worker anywhere, and was told that my home health care agency should supply one.  I no longer had a home health care agency.

On Monday, August 6, I called the VNA and spoke with Patti, the secretary to CEO Kate Rolf.  She said that Rolf was out all week and there were three vice presidents but they were in training all day.  I asked for the names and contact information for all agencies, offices or entities that licensed, accredited or certified the VNA.  Patti said that would be the NYS Dept. of Education.  When I asked her to give me the contact information, she said, “I’m not allowed to do that.”  Give me one good reason why the VNA has a policy to hide their accountability.

Then Vice President Gail Carmichael called me and said that she had talked to Bango and read my letter to the executive director.  Carmichael told me that state or federal regulations require them to send a nurse first when a social worker is requested.  I have no proof that is a true statement.  If it is, then it’s pretty stupid but if the regulation exists then the nurses should be adequately trained to assess for social needs, and correctly perform that assessment.  Cwikla did not.

Then Carmichael stated that, after conversation with Dr. Tucker, I had been terminated so that I could get Hospice care (Medicaid will not pay for home care and hospice care at the same time).

That is a bloody lie!  I immediately explained to Carmichael the timeline:  Bango terminated me on Friday, July 20, only minutes after the nurse left my home, and Dr. Tucker did not order Hospice until the following Tuesday, July 24.

In the first place, VNA home health care services should have been continued until I actually was accepted by Hospice, which I was not.

In the second place, the first substantial conversation Dr. Tucker had with Bango (and, to my knowledge, the only conversation) occurred before Dr. Tucker made the decision to refer me to Hospice.  Bango’s only source for knowing that I had been referred to Hospice was me, not Dr. Tucker.  It appears that Bango lied to Carmichael.

Because I could not understand the complicated rules and regulations that Carmichael was telling me, I repeatedly asked her to talk to Dr. Tucker.  She abruptly ended the conversation, presumably to call Dr. Tucker, and said she would call me back later that afternoon.  She didn’t.

When Carmichael finally did call back, she told me she would send a specially certified nurse from CCH (I don’t know what that is) to do a PRI (NYS Dept. of Health’s Patient Review Instrument).  When the PRI was done on Thursday, August 9, it revealed that I need placement in a skilled nursing facility.

I am so sick that I need 24-hour care but the VNA has left me with no care at all.

I have had several other phone conversations with Carmichael.  In one, I asked her what the process was for appealing the VNA’s decision to terminate me.  Carmichael said she didn’t know.

Later, after checking, she told me that they had no appeal process, but I could file a complaint that would be investigated.  And with whom should I file the complaint?

Amor Bango.  The woman who had terminated me was to investigate herself—the woman who said “no” when I asked her to listen to my side of the story.  It is likely that Bango is the person who created the story that I had been terminated for Hospice in order to conceal that she had done a wrongful termination.

Carmichael then said that the next level for the complaint would be herself.  The woman who accepted Bango’s version of events would review my complaint against that version.  In my last conversation with Carmichael last week, she again repeated the statement that the VNA had terminated me so that I could get Hospice.  Carmichael had listened to my version of the timeline of events and ignored it.  She is sticking with the corporate lie, and I’m supposed to file my complaint with her?

Carmichael then said that the third level would be CEO Kate Rolf—the person who already received my letter of complaint and made no response.

I asked if there was any patient advocate involved in the process.  Carmichael said yes—on the Professional Advisory Committee, which only meets quarterly each year.  I have been unreasonably denied services right now and there is no apparent way to file an appeal and get services restored for months.

The Visiting Nurse Association of Central New York needs to be thoroughly investigated.  At all levels, they hold themselves unaccountable for their actions.  There is no appeal process.  There is no patient advocate.  There is a policy of secrecy about what outside agencies might hold them accountable.

I have been grievously damaged by the VNA and I want to be informed of what corrective actions will be taken to change the VNA policies, processes and personnel to ensure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else.

Anne C Woodlen

August 12, 2012


About annecwoodlen

I am a tenth generation American, descended from a family that has been working a farm that was deeded to us by William Penn. The country has changed around us but we have held true. I stand in my grandmother’s kitchen, look down the valley to her brother’s farm and see my great-great-great-great-great-grandmother Hannah standing on the porch. She is holding the baby, surrounded by four other children, and saying goodbye to her husband and oldest son who are going off to fight in the Revolutionary War. The war is twenty miles away and her husband will die fighting. We are not the Daughters of the American Revolution; we were its mothers. My father, Milton C. Woodlen, got his doctorate from Temple University in the 1940’s when—in his words—“a doctorate still meant something.” He became an education professor at West Chester State Teachers College, where my mother, Elizabeth Hope Copeland, had graduated. My mother raised four girls and one boy, of which I am the middle child. My parents are deceased and my siblings are estranged. My fiancé, Robert H. Dobrow, was a fighter pilot in the Marine Corps. In 1974, his plane crashed, his parachute did not open, and we buried him in a cemetery on Long Island. I could say a great deal about him, or nothing; there is no middle ground. I have loved other men; Bob was my soul mate. The single greatest determinate of who I am and what my life has been is that I inherited my father’s gene for bipolar disorder, type II. Associated with all bipolar disorders is executive dysfunction, a learning disability that interferes with the ability to sort and organize. Despite an I.Q. of 139, I failed twelve subjects and got expelled from high school and prep school. I attended Syracuse University and Onondaga Community College and got an associate’s degree after twenty-five years. I am nothing if not tenacious. Gifted with intelligence, constrained by disability, and compromised by depression, my employment was limited to entry level jobs. Being female in the 1960’s meant that I did office work—billing at the university library, calling out telegrams at Western Union, and filing papers at a law firm. During one decade, I worked at about a hundred different places as a temporary secretary. I worked for hospitals, banks, manufacturers and others, including the county government. I quit the District Attorney’s Office to manage a gas station; it was more honest work. After Bob’s death, I started taking antidepressants. Following doctor’s orders, I took them every day for twenty-six years. During that time, I attempted%2
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4 Responses to Part II: Ask for a Social Worker, Get a Nurse

  1. I think that any health care organization in NYS is required by law to provide you with information (including contact) about the avenue through which you can complain about them. There are laws about Patients Rights. These appear to have been violated. By the way, I am a social worker. Just sayin’….

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Absolutely, there are legal requirements. But if the CEO orders the staff not to reveal the information, then what is the patient to do? Come on, Nancy, I need solutions.

  2. marvin keith says:

    How can I communicate with you, privately? We share some circumstances.

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