The Judge Yelling at Me


Let us be clear about a few things: first, Steve is my Power of Attorney (POA); second, the Iroquois Nursing Home has issued me a Transfer/Discharge Notice, signed by Mia Ibrahim-Lester, the discharge planner; third, I have appealed the Notice and been notified by the NYS Dept. of Health, Nursing Home Case Resolution Unit, that a hearing will be scheduled.

This morning my POA called to say that Mia had called to tell him that the hearing will be this Friday at such-and-such a time. Neither he nor I had received any notice from the NYS DOH Bureau of Adjudication. Okay, there are three parties involved here: I’ve filed a complaint against the Iroquois, and the Bureau is going to provide the judge to decide between the two of us. Don’t you think that the Bureau should notify both parties at the same time? I have a bedside phone, my POA has a cell phone and fax (I know he has a fax because it was mine), and we both have email accounts: we are reachable.

So then POA tells me that he told Mia that he couldn’t attend on Friday because he will be speaking at an out-of-state conference and she said she would follow up in regard to getting the hearing rescheduled. At which point I went ballistic. POA is a mediator/negotiator kind of guy who has little or no experience with court activity; I used to work in the District Attorney’s Office, and have done three hearings on my own behalf: there is no way in hell that the Party of the Second Part should be approaching the judge to handle rescheduling for the Party of the First Part.

The way this should work is that the judge’s office notifies both parties at the same time by the same means, then both parties have contact information for the judge and can approach her/him as needed. My ADVERSARY is going to handle the rescheduling for MY Power of Attorney? Oh, I don’t think so; I don’t think so very much.

The only phone number I have with which to deal with this is the Case Resolution Unit, which may also be the Centralized Complaint Intake Unit. Anyway, they both use the same phone number: (518) 402-5447. So I call and ask for the number for the Bureau of Adjudication, to which they have forwarded my complaint. The woman gives me a phone number, which I call, but there is no answer. I don’t believe it. A state government phone that doesn’t have voice mail? Nah, I don’t believe it.

So I fire up the computer, go on line to the NYS DOH and start looking for a telephone number. I look high; I look low; I look sideways. I search all over the place and can’t find anything so I do what I do in these circumstances: I call the Onondaga County Public Library Reference Dept. at 435-1900: your tax dollars at work for you. These people have lots of skills, lots of databases, and are paid to search, so after a while the reference person comes back and tells me she found the Bureau of Adjudication number listed under NYS DOH Division of Legal Affairs—and the number the other guys gave me was wrong.

So I call the right number and get Doris, who I think is the head judge’s secretary because I talked to her regarding the last hearing. I ask her why the Iroquois was notified and POA and I were not. She says that’s a question for Miss Hunter but Miss Hunter is on her phone, so I leave my name and number and ask for a call-back. It’s around noon.

A couple hours later Mia and Bri, an Iroquois social worker, come into my room. Mia is the talker; Bri is the witness. I don’t get to arrange for a witness before they talk to me, but maybe I’ll start telling them that if they want to talk to me then they have to give me a chance to get a witness, too. I, after all, am the one with hyperglycemia who forgets more than the average person. So Mia talks. She says a bunch of stuff. What I remember is (a) she clearly states that POA has received notification and she clearly gives the impression that he got it from the Bureau; (b) she has talked to Sonya Mosher, the Iroquois administrator; and (c) Rosewood will not accept me.

I just sit there and listen and look at them, which makes Mia nervous so she leaves, Brianne with her. I call POA. He states clearly that the only notification he has received was from Mia; he has not received any official notification from the judge’s office. So I call the judge’s office again, get Doris again, and ask for Miss Hunter again. And am told that she’s out to lunch. It is 3:15 p.m. In my day, you went to lunch either from 12:00 to 1:00 or from 1:00 to 2:00. At three o’clock you were at your desk to serve the voting public.

So I ask for Miss Hunter’s supervisor and am connected to Nicole. Again, I ask why the Iroquois was notified and POA and I weren’t. She says it’s because sometimes it’s hard to get ahold of a resident in a nursing home so they just tell the nursing home to tell the resident. This is the case of Anne Woodlen, Appellant, versus Iroquois Nursing Home, Inc., Respondent, and the appellant is dependent on the respondent for information? EXCUSE ME???

So I ask Nicole what her job title is. “Secretary,” she answers. Then I ask Nicole what is the job title of Miss Hunter. “Secretary,” she answers. You’re kidding me. One secretary supervising another? And no lawyer anywhere in the vicinity?

So then I get to talk to Judge Horan, who is head of the Bureau of Adjudication. I ask him if he is aware that the policy of his office is to not notify the appellant. I can’t believe this is happening so I figure he must not have known. I review the major points, and he tells me that he knows; he’s been listening to my conversation “outside [his] door.” I point out that, among other things, the Bureau’s policy of only working with the respondent sends a clear message of bias: the government is on the side of the institution. These people at the Iroquois keep coming in and leaning on me about every damn thing. I am dependent on them for notification of hearing, not to mention that Mia STILL hasn’t given me notification?

Judge Horan, by the way, starts yelling at me. Honest to God. Raises his voice and yells at me, which is particularly odd given that I won the last hearing. I’m right, the Iroquois is wrong, the judge is working exclusively with the Iroquois, and YELLING AT ME???

My next call is to NYS DOH Division of Legal Affairs, General Counsel James Dering. He does not yell at me. In fact, he listens very carefully.

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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