Funny Thing About That


Last week I got a letter from Crouse Hospital. It was addressed to “Dear Patient” and was co-signed by Nancy Williams, head of Patient Relations, and Betty O’Connor, director of nursing.

The letter invited me to dinner on Thursday, April 10, because I was “a past recipient of Medical-Surgical care”; the purpose was to discuss the care provided on 5 South.

It would be a focus group of 10-15 women, first-come first-included. After we had dined and focused, we each would be given a complementary $75 gift card for our time and travel. We were asked to RSVP to a secretary in Administration.

I RSVP’d within minutes of receiving the letter, then sat back and waited for them to renege on the invitation. I believed that the letter had been sent out to random patients and that they didn’t want to hear from me specifically. I wondered how long it would take them to realize who they’d invited, and who would dis-invite me, and what reason would be given.

Meanwhile, I reflected on the reasons why my experience on 5 South had been so bad, what priorities I would ascribe to the problems, and what solutions I could recommend. I was hopeful that Crouse actually wanted to learn from their patients. I am far removed from the horrendous 104 days I spent on 5 South, and have benefitted so much from the alternative therapies I instituted that I was prepared to be helpful, not vengeful.

This morning the dis-invite call came from Nancy Williams. The reason given was that 5 South is mostly a surgical floor and the focus group was intended for post-surgery patients.

Do you believe her?

I don’t believe that Crouse Hospital could write a letter intended solely for post-surgical patients and not mention that in the letter. And why would they only want to know about the nursing care for surgical patients? Don’t us medical patients matter?

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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2 Responses to Funny Thing About That

  1. Rather not thanks says:

    They don’t want anyone to speak about the care that is given there, that
    might ruin the NM reputation! You would have give them great feedback, now wether or not they wanted to hear it is more the issue!! Good point Anne, I am glad you are doing better!

    • annecwoodlen says:

      A friend of mine, whose husband was hospitalized there, reports that “He came home covered from pelvic area to knees with a rash and it took 2 weeks to clear up. all the pressure pads that were on his skin were crusty with fecal matter.” In regard to another patient “My Pastor’s mom passed away in your old room and unless family was there she was ignored. She ask all treatment be withdrawn except comfort care and when she became unable to communicate she was denied pain meds family stayed around the clock to ensure that the meds were given as ordered.”

      What is the “NM” reputation?

      Crouse has decided only to listen to their self-serving staff, not their dependent patients. I, too, am glad I am doing better. I was a bloody fool not to have gone out AMA earlier.

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