A Little Touch of Reality


So, at the Iroquois Nursing Home, I took an overdose and an ambulance was called. The guy in the back of the ambulance demanded some bureaucratic information from me. I was too sick to understand it and so refused to answer. The guy in the back ordered the ambulance to stop on the driveway and said I would not be transported until I answered the question. He would not accept an answer from my Power of Attorney, who had been standing on the sidewalk with the guy. I don’t remember how—or if—that was resolved. The guys in the back of ambulances have many mean ways of extorting information from patients whom they decide—without benefit of a medical degree—are uncooperative, instead of too sick to understand.

In the ambulance, no heroic lifesaving actions were performed; no IV was started; no medications were administered: all the ambulance did was transport me 4.4 miles to Crouse Hospital. Then they sent a bill for $1005.

At Crouse, I am seen in the Emergency Department, evaluated and admitted. Medicare/Medicaid (M/M) pay for my hospitalization for two days, then the medical decision is made that I no longer need acute care, which is what hospitals gets paid for providing, so the medical team transfers me to ALC—Alternate Level of Care. This is all paperwork. Physically I am still in the same bed on the medical/surgical floor. The daily bed cost is $1639.

And nobody is paying for it. M/M will pay nothing, or next to nothing, to the hospital for hosting me because I do not need acute care. The reason St. Joseph’s Hospital and Crouse Hospital got together so many years ago, bought land and paid for the building of the Iroquois Nursing Home was so there would be a place for them to send people like me who need skilled nursing care but not acute care.

But that didn’t work out so well, now did it? Dr. Richard Lockwood, medical director of the Iroquois, was upset because he felt that Crouse forced him to accept me as a resident. It was his job; it was what he was supposed to do, but he was arrogant and his ego was not being fed, so he refused to see the patient when she needed pain medication. She/me filed a complaint with the NYS Dept. of Health and we all know how that played out.

So the next problem is that the care on the Iroquois Palliative Care Unit was substandard. How did that happen? I think it was because they hired Sonya Mosher to be the administrator and Sonya is not a nice person; she does not care about people. And apparently she hired the arrogant Dr. Lockwood, who has no compassion or real concern for the people who reside at the Iroquois. Together, Lockwood and Mosher did not care about the human beings entrusted to them.
The residents of the Palliative Care Unit are inarticulate. They cannot tell anyone that they have bedsores, aren’t being fed, and so forth. Also, they probably are being over-medicated to keep them quiet. And the residents have little or nothing in the way of families. What they do have in the way of families doesn’t come to visit often. The families have turned Auntie over to the Iroquois in the expectation that the Iroquois will take proper care of her then they break the bond and abandon Great Uncle Whosits.

The only protection that Auntie and Great Uncle have is the inspectors from the state Dept. of Health (DOH). I don’t know what the problems are from the DOH point of view, but I do know that they are essentially useless. They are Civil Servants—which means they have no initiative—and they do not view Auntie and Great Uncle as loving and lovable people. They view them as code violations and assign them numbers.

The Iroquois has 160 beds, each occupied by the still-breathing remnants of a human being. How is the DOH inspector to examine 160 butts to see if any have unhealed bedsores? How is the DOH inspector to sit at table with 160 people and notice which ones need help feeding and aren’t getting it? So then Annie shows up, coherent and with a laptop computer, and starts sending messages out from Iroquois’ Palliative Care Unit.

It is not possible for inspectors to view 160 residents to see which ones are hurting, so the inspectors have learned to do nothing. When Annie starts sending them messages about, specifically, Cora and Alice, the inspectors do not spring into action. Instead, the Iroquois bullies Annie with threats of HIPAA. I have never heard of a single instance in which HIPAA made things better. What I do know from lots of experience is that agencies and institutions use HIPAA to protect themselves from accountability when they are doing things wrong.

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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4 Responses to A Little Touch of Reality

  1. Jack Joe says:

    hmm. well i would understand it if you were giving out patient’s first And last names and their diagnosis. I could see them pointing to that and saying “Look. Personal Info is being given out, online no less!”
    But ‘Cora’ can’t reach her in need of assistance bell – we need to help her and others like her – I don’t see where there is a confidential breach.
    Because who else is speaking out For her? – I was touched Anne by how much that had touched You while in the middle of your own suffering could stop. and see the suffering of another.. to Help best you could. By making it known. A voice for the one who has in many ways, lost hers and her ability to.

    Is it a violation to state a person is IN the hospital?
    i do not know – i am not schooled on the specifics. I would however Guess ‘no’ since it’s in the media news online included.. who has checked into where and when, into which Chemical Dep. Program even when that Clearly is giving out although somewhat underhandedly their diagnosis. The ‘Official’ Statements usually come afterwards for damage control.
    So I doubt SO many magazines/Online versions of Papers, etc. etc. would ALL go against such rules and into countless law suits in stating the simply ‘whom’ is now ‘where’ – and they certainly use first last and middle name if need be. But again, I do not know for sure.

    All i DO know is that to use a person’s first name only in an attempt to get her needed help is one of The Beatitudes and not something to be used against a human being for being human.
    May this evening be one of the good ones, in which you find yourself able to sleep and wake dare I say, refreshed.
    Peace dear Anne.

    • annecwoodlen says:

      Thank you, dear Jack. If we obey Jesus’ dictum to care for one another, than aren’t we doing the right thing? If Casaer’s law is in conflict with God’s law, then God’s law always takes precedence.

      Further, it is my understanding that HIPAA only covers PEOPLE WHO ARE EMPLOYED IN MEDICAL CARE,which I am not, therefore, I don’t believe that HIPAA has any control over me. My aide cannot go home and tell her neighbor that I have sores on my butt, but if I were living in the community then I could write about my neighbor being so poor that she had to eat dog food. As a person, I have the right to write about my neighbors. A separate question would be whether the institution has a responsibility to protect other patients privacy. They might, for example, have to put me in a private room where I cannot see what is going on with other people, but I am not an employee and they cannot use HIPAA to directly silence me.

      • Jack Joe says:

        that makes sense – Imagine if there were no such law concerning Their Disclosures?
        Anne.. there was this HUGE story in England that happened about a year ago. Maybe i just missed it or it wasn’t that big of a story here. Not sure which is true, but I’d like to know what your thoughts are on blame – legal and/or just plain moral.
        We never know how someone will take a joke-on-them.. especially considering this wasn’t their ‘first joke gone wrong’ – although i did a search I never did come across their First joke with side effects. (Most likely you have No idea what I’m even saying – but will Make Sense I promise!)

        OOH!
        And If/when you feel up to it. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to hear your opinion on the following story -considering a great it has to do with hospitals and (although not your usual case) of broken confidentiality, It’s tragic really, although ‘where’ the blame truly lies (lays? lies) is not so black and white for me: But what a H U G E Story and “I” didn’t hear anything about it till last week – Was it just me?

        Here’s the story – on a you-tube type news cast on the story:
        : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVXEOle1BAA
        OR

        and to hear the actual radio call in it’s entirety (sounds like the Whole Call):

        Peace my friend.

      • annecwoodlen says:

        I think that the Australian DJs prank call to the hospital (about the royal baby) may have been tasteless or inappropriate–or maybe not–but they should not in any way have been considered responsible for the nurse’s suicide. Absolutely no one was hurt by the call–no blood was shed, no money was lost, no damage was done, just a minor embarrassment. Therefore, if that, in fact, was the cause of the suicide (she didn’t leave an explanation, did she?) then it was unbelievable. Something like that might have pushed her over the edge, but–in my considerable experience–she would have had to have been very, very close to the edge for a very long time. A healthy person doesn’t commit suicide over a joke gone wrong, therefore, she must already have been very unhealthy if that pushed her over the edge. Just my opinion, which could be inadequately informed.

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