First Anniversary (Part I)


A year ago Memorial Day weekend, I was admitted to Crouse Hospital in Syracuse with extremely high blood sugar. I have diabetes mellitus, type 2. Four times attempts had been made to treat it but I couldn’t tolerate the medicine. I was told there was nothing left but to die from it, so I was transferred to the Iroquois Nursing Home.

The Iroquois was built about thirty years ago by Crouse Hospital and St. Joseph’s Hospital because there weren’t enough nursing home beds in Onondaga County. The hospitals still own the Iroquois. The policy was that patients only could enter the Iroquois from Crouse or St. Joe’s. The practice was that any high-ranking person from either of those hospitals could get their kin admitted directly from home, e.g. a St. Joe’s nursing instructor got her mother admitted direct from home twice.

The Iroquois is a four-story (160-bed?) facility located in Onondaga County in a rich suburb of Syracuse. The first floor is a locked Alzheimer’s unit; second floor, rehab; third, long-term care; fourth, palliative care. Staff reported there was no functional difference between the long-term and palliative units. CMS has given the Iroquois a five-star rating and it has the local reputation of being the best.

Rosewood Nursing Home in Syracuse is also owned by the two hospitals. It is on the national shit-list as being one of the worst 10% of nursing homes in the country. Rosewood issued the Certificate of Need that got the Iroquois built. The board of directors over Rosewood and the Iroquois is comprised of three people appointed by the president of Crouse Hospital, three from St. Joseph’s, and four “other.” The president of the board is a vice president from St. Joe’s who has a bad relationship with—at least—the members from Crouse.

After five weeks in Crouse Hospital, I was admitted to the Iroquois on the rehab floor. I was told that this was because of my cognitive competence. Rehab was not a possibility for me. In addition to diabetes mellitus, I have nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, myalgic encephalomyelitis, severe obstructive sleep apnea, stage 3 kidney disease, depression, pulmonary fibrosis, fibromyalgia, cataracts, left ventricular hypertrophy, and right branch bundle block. I have an indwelling catheter, BiPAP machine, electric wheelchair and hospital bed.

The first thing the Iroquois did was take away the electric wheelchair I’d been using for ten years. It was their policy. It is a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act to enact such a policy. They never would let me sit in my wheelchair and show them what I could do. Instead, they did a paper-and-pencil assessment and kept my wheelchair stored in a shed.

Second, the medical director, Dr. Lockwood, saw me for less than five minutes upon admission. He did not know my name or that I was there for palliative care. He assured me that he would have me out of there in no time, which was shocking since I expected to be there until I died.

Later I saw the note in my chart in which Lockwood wrote that he’d examined me and ordered lab work. He did neither. Other staff assured me that this was regular practice; apparently the hospital discharge notes were cribbed and used as nursing home admission notes. (My charges were being billed to Medicare/Medicaid.)

Every day I asked to see the doctor in order to get pain medication. He did not come for two weeks until I filed a complaint with the NYS nursing home hotline. He was abrupt, rude and uncooperative. Minutes after Lockwood left, the supervising nurse came and told me I was being sent to Crouse Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation.

I was ambulanced to Crouse where the ER director found no reason to call a psych consult. When he tried to send me back to the Iroquois, they refused to accept me.

Admitted to Crouse again, it took me three weeks to get a NYS Dept. of Health fair hearing. The Iroquois failed to make its case, the judge ruled that they could not discharge me to a hospital, and that they had to take me back to the first available bed.

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 American medical industry, Medicaid, Medical care, Medicare, Nursing home, physician, power wheelchairs, Powerlessness and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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