Doctors and Accountability

So here it is, just another rainy morning in Syracuse, and I’m tucked up on Four North at Crouse Hospital.  Four North is the cardiac unit.  My heart is no better or worse than usual but, since I’m only receiving good basic nursing, not any specialized care, they tuck me in wherever there’s room.  This means I have a scenic view of the Memorial Unit of Crouse Hospital.  My window is about four feet tall and ten feet wide and about 95 percent of it is occupied by Memorial.

I’d rather see trees, children playing, and a duck pond but the reality of Syracuse is that when they started building hospitals—the VA hospital, Upstate Medical Center, Hutchings Psychiatric Center, Crouse (formerly Crouse, Irving and Memorial)—they didn’t plan for the future and buy enough land to grow.  Consequently, everything is jammed in and you count yourself lucky if your view is of another building instead of a parking garage.  If I crane my head to the right then I can see a patch of western sky but by the time it comes to a beautiful sunset I’ve got the blinds closed against the heat.  (Bitch, bitch, bitch—can you never satisfy the woman?)

I just don’t need or want to be in acute care.  I should be back at the Iroquois with its trees and gardens (no duck pond, though).  Crouse is taking care of me while my various complaints against Dr. Richard Lockwood and/or the Iroquois Nursing Home work their way through the system.  Meanwhile, here at Crouse, we are working our way through the pharmacopeia in search of a sleeping medication that does more good than harm.  So far we’ve tried Xanax, Oxycodone, Ambien and wine.   My vote is for Oxycodone.

Yesterday was a terribly black day.  Massachusetts General Hospital and Brigham & Women’s Hospital both have immunology units that deal with drug desensitization but neither one would take me.  Honest to God, I don’t know what’s up with these hospitals and doctors.  They only will take patients where they already know the answers.  Why won’t anybody look at the questions?  Doctors poisoned me with drugs and nobody will deal with it.  How nice for them.  Sucks for me.

A student nurse has just been in to check my vitals—blood pressure 127/90, oxygen 94, blood sugar 430.  I was reminded that yesterday I met Lynn Shapiro, the nurse manager of the cardiac unit.  She started on this unit as a student nurse thirty years ago and is still working here.  Can you imagine?  She jokes about her uniform including a hard hat when they were building the current unit of the hospital.

A couple days ago another nurse told me that when Crouse was going through Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings (because of that dreadful CEO whose name has been erased from the annuls of Crouse, and who went on to drive another hospital into bankruptcy) the CFO (Chief Nursing Officer) of Upstate Medical Center was planning ahead and expecting Crouse’s nurses to jump ship and be available for her to hire.  Funny thing about that:  the nurses stuck with Crouse, and Upstate’s CFO is now Crouse’s CFO.  Mass General is ten times the size of Crouse but I bet they don’t get the loyalty that Crouse does.

[Sigh.]  I don’t want to be in the hospital.  I can’t go forward to getting medical treatment because they won’t accept me.  I can’t go backward to my apartment because it’s already being shut down.  I can’t go sideways to long-term care until the complaints against Lockwood and the Iroquois are resolved.  Those complaints are with various government agencies and we know how fast they move.

Speaking of which, remember Dr. Roger Levine, director of St. Joseph’s Hospital’s inpatient psychiatric unit?  I wrote a five-part piece about him, starting at , and filed a complaint with OPMC—the NYS Dept. of Health’s Office of Professional Medical Conduct.  They received the complaint two months ago.  Yesterday I received their reply, which said “The issues you have reported do not fall under the jurisdiction of the OPMC.”

The American Journal of Homeopathic Medicine reports that “Every year the OPMC investigates approximately 7,000 complaints, resulting in roughly 400 actions of discipline . . .”  In other words if you, as a patient, file a complaint then you only have about one chance in twenty of being upheld.  OPMC is doctors and nurses investigating doctors, and you know how that turns out.

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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