GET HELP FOR CORA


So yesterday afternoon, after lunch, after my medication, after Dr. Shawl’s regular monthly visit, I settled down for a nap. And the aide brought my roommate Cora in and apparently left her sitting on a bedpan. Cora called out for help 42 times.

After the first ten calls, I rang my call bell for her and remained in a semi-sleep status until the aide returned and got Cora cleaned up and put to bed. Then Cora called out for help another 39 times. Again, I pressed my call bell to get care for her.

Then—absolutely livid and with all possibility of sleep gone—I started making phone calls. My first call was to Sonya Mosher, administrator of the Iroquois. The secretary/receptionist with whom I spoke told me that her directions are to take messages from me. Missy Mosher is not going to talk to me—never has, as a matter of fact, and never will. That’s an administrative style that’s not going to get her far.

So I called Colleen, the nurse manager, and told her that I’d just listened to Cora call for help 81 times in 45 minutes, and Colleen told me that I’m on the list for a room change. This is what various Iroquois administrative types have said to me repeatedly in the past few days. Their plan is to move me, not Cora. They don’t give a rat’s ass about relieving Cora’s suffering; she is not a person, she is a broken machine—“You must understand the disease process.”

For weeks I have been saying that Cora should be in the single room nearest the nursing station and—wonder of wonders—that exact bed became available on Labor Day. Elfrieda died. Elfrieda was Cora’s last roommate. She complained relentlessly about Cora so, when the first bed became available, they moved Elfrieda into it. According to the judge’s order, I was supposed to get it but the Iroquois ignored the judge’s order—or maybe God had a different plan.

Anyway, Elfrieda and I both dined at Table 2. She was a heavy woman of German origin, and she was ensconced in the single room nearest the nursing station—except she went bad. One of the nurses told me that she was dying, and going surprisingly fast. She started using a lot of oxygen and stopped coming out for meals—and when I asked after her, no one would tell me how she was doing.

HIPAA HIPAA HIPAA, that great gift from Washington that separates us from our friends and neighbors. FREIDA SAT TWO SEATS AWAY FROM ME AT MEALS AND I WASN’T ALLOWED TO KNOW HOW SHE WAS OR IF SHE WAS.

The dining room has three sides and is open on the fourth side. Monday while thirty-two of us were at lunch the funeral director wheeled Frieda’s body out past us.

This is the Iroquois Nursing Home.

So yesterday there was a vacant bed on the Iroquois’ fourth floor palliative care unit. They did not give it to me. They did not give it to Cora. They moved a complete stranger into it.

You know how you get a bed at the Iroquois? According to what you are told in the community, you have to be an inpatient either at St. Joseph’s Hospital or Crouse Hospital to get to the Iroquois. The fact is, you have to be a first-degree relative of someone important who works at St. Joe’s or Crouse, like the woman who got two direct admissions from home: her daughter is a nursing instructor at St. Joe’s.

So this afternoon I hung up on Colleen and made a whole bunch of other calls. Sometimes I don’t reveal the names of the people I call; I don’t know why not, I just don’t. They’re good people with enough power to make things happen fast. They don’t need or want publicity, and I’m not going to put them in a position to be hassled when they’re trying to fix something nasty fast. One of the people sucked air and said ‘I’m on it.’ By then, I was crying.

Then I called Karen Vendetti, supervisor of the Division of Nursing Home Surveillance and Whatever, in the NYS Dept. of Health Regional Office in Syracuse. The reason I’m giving you her name is because she is not a good person and is not trying to fix anything. I’m telling her that Cora cried out for help 81 times in 45 minutes . . .

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, advocacy, Death, Medical care, Nursing home, Onondaga County, Powerlessness, Values and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to GET HELP FOR CORA

  1. Edmundo says:

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