Rome Center a/k/a Stonehedge (Part II)

Rome Center is now under investigation by the NYS Dept. of Health.  The case number is NY00122617.  Please forward this to anyone you know who might want to contribute information to the investigation.  Also, please forward it to anyone you know who might know anyone else—six degrees of separation.

When I woke up in the Rome [NY] Center for Rehabilitation around eight o’clock, I asked to speak to the nursing supervisor.  She didn’t come.

Around 9:15 a.m. Carol, my roommate, was in pain and her call-bell was out of reach so I rang for her—and, as always, I needed water and to have my catheter bag drained.  No one answered the call-bell.  Neither one of us could get out of bed to get to the door.  After waiting half an hour, I called 911.  I had seen on the Internet that a previous patient at Rome Center had had to do that.   “Hell on earth. Was in there a few months ago for help walking. Not enough nurses and no knowledge about patient rights. They played so many games with my oxygen that I almost died. They refused to keep it at the level the doctor ordered and I ended up in the Rome Hospital. I still have nightmares and wake up crying . . .”

“They didn’t tell me anything about my treatment options . . . Not only were they unwilling to seek any sort of advice from anyone else when they didn’t have an answer for me, they highly discouraged me from seeking anyone else’s opinion . . .  If I had known how terrible they were I never would have gone . . . They also changed [Mom’s] dressings improperly to the point of bleeding and they popped her stitches.”

“This place is horrible. Never put anyone you care about here.”

Because of my bad eyesight, I had only seen one of these comments before I went to Rome Center.

When I called 911, the operator said she would call the nurses’ station and, from the way she said, it sounded like it was a common occurrence.  Even with the call to 911, Carol and I did not get help for another ten minutes.

The nursing supervisor and social worker arrived sometime around ten o’clock.  The supervisor wanted to know what was wrong.  Um, everything?  I told her about the Apidra and we discussed that for a couple of minutes.  Then I started to tell her about my eye problem.  [Yesterday I learned that the insulin that brought my glucose down so abruptly caused my vision to go from 20/25 to 20/70, which is not legal to drive.]

I was angry and raised my voice.  I did not strike the nurse, throw things, or curse.  All I did was raise my voice.  She told me to lose the attitude, which made me angrier.  I have a right to be angry when I am denied proper treatment.

I asked the social worker for the numbers for the NYS Dept. of Health Nursing Home hotline, and the Oneida County DOH ombudsman.  She refused to give them to me until I behaved “appropriately.”

They left the room.  I was now bedridden and totally trapped in Rome Center.  I called the police.  They did not come.  Standard procedure is that the police call the institution, the institution says everything is okay, and the patient is abandoned to the improprieties of the institution.

The nursing supervisor came back and said that I was to be ambulanced to the hospital, and they would call the police to force me if I resisted.  In my reply, I was gesticulating within my personal body-space.  She ordered me not to point my finger.  I called her a Nazi.

Bad nurses demand total submission, and this was a really bad nursing supervisor.  I was not allowed to raise my voice or point my finger.  After the Nazi left the room, my roommate softly thanked me and said she had to beg for everything she needed.

I had persistently demanded and gotten a telephone, so I got busy.  It took a lot of phone calls and frustration.  I was about to be separated from my $8000 power wheelchair and $3000 laptop computer.  It was either total submission or police action and I was afraid.

Finally, I did the unthinkable:  I called the cell phone of a man who is so highly placed in the NYS Dept. of Health that he has to wear oxygen to breath.  I’ve never called his cell phone before because you just don’t bother a guy like that but I was now under threat of police action so I called him.

I had met him and earned his respect while we were working together on another DOH issue and he thinks I’m kind of cool.  One of the lessons I’ve learned from my activism work is that the smart guys at the top get what I’m doing; the stupid nurses at the bottom don’t.

The end result of that conversation is that Rome Center is now under investigation by the NYS Dept. of Health.  The case number is NY00122617.  Please forward this to anyone you know who might want to contribute information to the investigation.  Please forward it to anyone who might know anyone—six degrees of separation.

Spread the word that Rome Center is a terrible nursing home/rehab facility.  The medical care is dangerously substandard.  And the worst part is that the patients cannot reach out to complain.

The hotline and the ombudsman programs were designed specifically to protect patients from bad nursing homes—but what if the nursing home won’t let you call for help?  Even the police protect the status quo.  Sick people are begging for help and no one can hear them.

Well, that just changed, didn’t it?  God sent Annie to check it out and now Rome Center is under investigation.

The nursing supervisor insisted that I was going to the hospital by ambulance because I raised my voice to her.  This was not a medically necessary trip; this was a police action.  I was equally insistent that I was not leaving without my wheelchair.  A friend suggested that if I was going home instead of to the hospital then maybe I could take my wheelchair and that is what I did.

Before I left, the directors of nursing and social work met with me.  I told them my complaints.  The director of social work told me that she, too, would have refused to give me the hotline and ombudsman numbers unless I behaved “appropriately.”  To them, complaining is a privilege they control, not a right belonging to the patients.

The management of Rome Center damages their patients and will not let them tell anyone.  The managers have set themselves up as the sole arbiters of what is right.

Guess again, Rome Center.  DOH makes and enforces the rules and you are now officially screwed.

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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2 Responses to Rome Center a/k/a Stonehedge (Part II)

  1. Marie says:

    Arbitrary decision-making as to whether or not a human being’s behavior as a patient is “appropriate” or not, has got to go ! I look forward to hearing about an “APPROPRIATE” outcome to all of this patient needs deferral/abuse ! // MCW

  2. marvin keith says:

    Yes, welcome back! And I thank you. In the long run this will help my brother in Albany.

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