It’s All About Power

It is my right, as an American citizen who is disabled, to use a power wheelchair. The Iroquois Nursing Home, where I currently reside, has made a policy that no resident may use a power chair. The policy is clearly a violation of the federal Americans with Disabilities Act.

Twelve days ago I wrote to Sonya Moshier, president of the Iroquois:

On Friday, August 9, two women entered my room. One was Marlis, the head of the physical therapy department. She said that I could not have my power chair because I have hyperglycemia. In fact, she put me into a class and denied the class without any individual assessment.

The other woman was her subordinate, Janice Walter, who stated that I could not have my power chair because I was “too aggressive.” I was verbally aggressive; there is no documentation that verbal aggression converts to physical aggression. I made mention of Al, another resident who uses a power chair because he was grandfathered in when the policy was put in place. He hits doorways; I don’t. Janice says, “But he’s calm.” I am being denied my power chair because I am not subservient, because I do know my rights, and because I exercise freedom of speech.

I told the two women to put their denial in writing and it would be addressed under the law. It would have taken them one business-day to do so. It only took two days to get the evaluation but I had to wait a week, ask four times, and get aggressive before the report was produced. The report was dated 8/9/13. It existed and the Iroquois would not provide it to me.

The Physical Therapy Plan Of Care (Evaluation Only) states that I have “780.71 Chronic fatigue syndrome.” This is true. The doctor opines that it is consequent to the lithium poisoning that is the probable cause of immune dysfunction, type unknown. A decade ago, I learned that if I was so tired that I had to use a wheelchair then I also was so tired that I could not push the wheelchair, hence ten years with a power chair.
The statements are made that I have an anxiety disorder and personality disorder. No source is referenced as to who made these diagnoses. Fact: this month, psychiatrist Nasri Ghaly, who has known me twenty years, has put in writing that I have a mood disorder and no other psychiatric disorder. Psychologist Katherine Lewis, who has treated me these past two years, writes that I have depression, but no other psychological disorder.

Dr. Richard Lockwood, the internist who is medical director of the Iroquois, has charged me with various psychiatric illnesses consequent to me getting him investigated for negligence, Medicaid fraud and retaliation. He discharged me to a hospital on grounds of needing a psychiatric evaluation. A judge later pronounced his action illegal and ordered the Iroquois to take me back. This denial of my right to use my power chair is part of the Iroquois continuing harassment of me for filing complaints.

Walker’s evaluation goes on to say “Patient refused to propel self in wheelchair . . .” This goes back to the day of admission, which was hectic and stressful. I refused to propel myself because the diagnosis was long-established and I was not going to damage myself to prove what doctors had already diagnosed.

Walker goes on to say “she is physically capable of self-propelling.” Based on what? I have not self-propelled in a decade. How is it that Walker arbitrarily makes a judgment based on nothing?

She then states that I am “medically unstable.” I am not. I just came from Crouse Hospital where I was put on Alternate Level of Care, i.e., the doctor stopped seeing me because I am medically stable. My temperature, blood pressure and oxygen level remained stable hour-to-hour, day-to-day, and week-to-week. I always put out about seven liters of urine per day, and my blood sugar is always around 400. Having multiple illnesses does not mean I am unstable. Fact: I am sick, but very stable.

Janice Walker then goes on to reference “emotional lability” and “angry outbursts directed at this writer and other staff.” Walker and other upper staff are denying me my rights under the law. Do I get angry at them? You bet. Iroquois administrators who are using their power to deny me my rights are reporting how I act in relationships with them, not how I act in relationships with people who treat me with courtesy and respect. How I am with Iroquois administrators is not how I am—it’s how we are. If the Iroquois administrators would stop violating my rights and victimizing me, they would discover I’m a really nice person.

Here are some more facts: I have used a power chair for ten years. In the first year, I drove over a bus driver’s toe when I turned and she was standing too close behind me. Wheelchairs do not have review mirrors. I have not had any other accident.

I routinely would make five-mile trips in my wheelchair, traveling safely in the streets when there were no accessible sidewalks. I wheeled around Carrier Circle, from downtown to the suburbs, and so forth with no trouble.
Medical transportation drivers, bus drivers, people in elevators and a host of others have commented on my exceptional ability to use my power chair. I have superior ability.

I have worked with SUNY Upstate, Syracuse University and the City of Syracuse to upgrade streets, sidewalks and festival sites so that they are wheelchair accessible.

I have suffered from hyperglycemia for several years. Consequently, I now go slower and not as far. Safe use of a power chair is not based on health and wellness. It is based on good judgment. It is not about what you can do; it is about knowing what to do—just like driving a car.

The Iroquois wants to keep all their residents under control by putting them all in manual chairs that have to be pushed by staff. The Iroquois’ desire is not supported by law. I am an outstandingly safe and capable user of a power wheelchair. Janice Walker’s evaluation is illogical, biased and not based in fact.

Please direct the Iroquois to return my power chair to me.

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
This entry was posted in activism, disability rights, Medical care, Nursing home, Power, power wheelchairs, Powerlessness and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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