The Fair Hearing

The hearing in the matter of Anne Woodlen regarding the dispute about discharge/transfer from the Iroquois Nursing Home will take place at 11:30 today.  The judge can render a decision today or wait a week.  Meanwhile, a previous decision–

The Fairly Fair Fair Hearing (part III)

Posted on October 24, 2010

 Then I ask Freeman, co-owner of Medical Answering Services LLC, why he discontinued my Medicaid transportation.

Freeman chokes, then spits out, “Because I was directed to by the county.”

“Who in the county told you to?” I ask.

“Zachary Karmen,” he says.

Maybe he says Mr. Karmen.  Maybe he says Zach Karmen.  It doesn’t matter.  He’s just named the man seated on his left, the Onondaga County chief Welfare attorney, the man who has identified himself, in writing, as my enemy.[1]

I say, “So a businessman gives me medical transportation and a lawyer takes it away?  And neither of you pay any attention to doctor’s orders?”

It is in that exact moment that I figure I’ve won my case, but the day’s not over yet.  In the middle of something, Wayne says, “This is where I differ from Mr. Karmen.”  Bottom line is that where Wayne Freeman differs with Zachary Karmen is that Wayne plans to keep giving me rides.

Well, how about that?

We go around in a few more circles.  Karmen’s face is red; he’s seething and beating a rapid tattoo with his pen.  He asks the judge to reaffirm that aid will not be continued.  The judge says, yes, the order of non-continuance will continue.

At this point Wayne—figuratively, at least—throws his arms wide to embrace everybody, looks at me and announces that if I’ll take Call-a-Bus when I can then he will give me Medicaid transportation when I can’t.  Never mind what attorney Zachary Karmen says.  Never mind what the OTDA judge says.  Never mind what the doctor says.

Wayne is looking at the judge, announcing that we’ve settled this.  It’s all taken care of.  I am utterly dumbfounded—but not really.  The people who run things in Onondaga County have never, ever, realized that when they are spending the state’s money, the state runs the table.  Local custom is to make up the rules and never, ever—not once—consider that the somebodies higher up the food chain may already have made rules that apply.

Wayne sits in a hearing in front of an administrative law judge from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance and informs her that it’s all taken care of.  He’s fixed it.  Him and me done struck a deal, and she can go home now.  It was a fairly impressive combination of naiveté, stupidity, audacity, disrespect and foolishness.

The judge, in an act of controlled brilliance, ignores him.  She says she doesn’t have anything more; do I have anything more?  No, no, I’m done, I say.  So she asks the county if they have anything more, and Karmen starts asking how many Call-a-Bus rides I’ve taken this week.

I reply that yesterday I took the bus for a 15-minute appointment with the chiropractor and 30 minutes at St. Camillus Rehab, and that I had to leave home at 1:00 and didn’t get back till 6:00.  With a catch in my voice, I report that I spent five hours in transit for 45 minutes of health care.

The one thing the judge is absolutely clear about is that she wants to see the medical application and letter from Dr. Ghaly.  She says she will leave the record open and Kane is to find it and get it to her by August 6 (or 8, when she returns).  I say I will get it from Dr. Ghaly and send it to her, too, not trusting the county any further than the elevator.

An hour and a half after entering the room, we break off contact and retreat to our separate dens.

             I have a friend who used to be an Army scout and a known deviant from standard procedure.  One day some high muckety-muck wrathfully told him, “You may be God’s gift to the Army, but you should be locked up and not brought out except in case of war!”  My friend said he spent the whole day grinning because he hadn’t known that he was God’s gift to the Army.

             I feel kind of like that.  As awful as the county says I am, they for sure think I’m important.


When the decision came in, I had won hands down.  The county was told that they could require a written recertification but that was all they could do.  I was to get Medicaid transportation just like all the other poor sick folks.  The county opted not to require a recertification.

Months later, I was placing a routine ride order when I realized that the call-taker was new.  He said my name out loud and I heard the supervisor sitting beside him say, “Give her anything she wants.”  Later, a note was appended to my file by Wayne Freeman.  It says, “Transport all trips for Anne.  Don’t ask any questions.”

Winning is not easy but it sure is fun.

[1] “Very interesting.  She’s a one woman conspiracy. . .   Thanks for the information.  I’ll keep this in the file.  I don’t want Anne to know that her ‘partners’ are passing on her plans to the enemy.”  Z. Karmen

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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