“I Don’t Know; I Really Don’t.” (Part II)


N.B. The Onondaga County web site states that Adult and Long Term Services includes Aging, Long Term Care, Veterans, Adult Protective and Mental Health; Commissioner Long’s secretary says it includes “Aging, Mental health, NY Connects, Protective Services, Veterans.” [“Nancy Lell/Secretary To The Commissioner/Onondaga County Department of Adult & Long Term Care Services/(Aging, Mental health, NY Connects, Protective Services, Veterans)].” She also answers the phone “Dept. of Mental Health.”

Commissioner Long has a lengthy history of working in mental health administration. Maybe we should request a time-audit to see how much time he is devoting to mental health as opposed to the other departments—whatever they may be—that he supervises. Or maybe we should check the secretary’s contributions to the Republican Party and her standing on the original Civil Service list. They’ve had seven months and still can’t properly identify themselves: that’s incompetence.

Continuation to https://annecwoodlen.wordpress.com/2014/08/04/i-dont-know-i-really-dont/

So the County Executive’s Office is saying I have exhausted “all” the agencies that provide home health aides and I just plain don’t believe that. You have to know me to hate me and most of the licensed home health care agencies in Onondaga County have never met me.

When government services are sub-standard then I do file complaints. That is true. Logically, based on what the County Executive’s Office is saying, to be “cooperative” in Onondaga County means to accept substandard service, i.e., service that is below the level required by law.

The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) provided substandard service to me, so I filed a complaint with the NYS Dept. of Health (DOH), which investigated and reported that the VNA was in violation of federal Title X and was developing a plan to get right. When I asked the NYS DOH man what was Title X, he did not answer me.

Ladies and gentlemen, I propose that Congress vote a new federal civil service law that says: If you work for the government and a citizen asks you a question and you don’t answer it then your ass gets fired. That would return the government to being “for the people.”

So my next question is “Who are ‘all’ the agencies?” I ask the ladies of Long Term Care and they won’t tell me. What they do tell me is that the list of agencies with whom the county contracts is protected by HIPAA. WTF?

When HIPAA first was visited upon the country, the Good Doctor gave me the HIPAA law, asked me to read it, and advise him of what I, as a smart patient, thought about it. And what I found when I read the document was a litany of statements about who can’t talk about what to whom—and every item ended with ‘unless the doctor decides to.’ Virtually every protection that is supposed to extend to every patient can be abrogated by any physician.

And what I have learned since the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in 1996 is that institutions—nursing homes, hospitals, government agencies—routinely invoke it in order to refuse to answer citizen’s questions. HIPAA was intended to protect the privacy of patients; it is now being used by agencies to protect themselves from having to give patients information that either would (a) reflect badly on the agency; (b) admit wrong-doing on the part of the agency, or (c) empower the patient.

For months I asked the ladies of Long Term Care for two things: the names of the home health care agencies with whom the county contracts, and the gross number of Medicaid cases that are waiting to be served by aides. Long Term Care refused to give me the information, often citing HIPAA. Those two questions have nothing to do with patient confidentiality; they have to do with county malfeasance.

I had been approved for home health aides in January. Around May, I got an aide. She came from Interim Healthcare, which was substandard from the get-go. Management failed to follow through, made commitments it didn’t keep, and generally lied. Nevertheless, the aide they finally assigned to me, Sha’Ron, was pretty good. The main problem was that she was on her cell phone all the time, and when I say “all the time” I mean, on average, she couldn’t work an hour without getting on her cell.

Several times I talked to her about it but her behavior did not change. I called the office and talked to the manager (?) Nick. He had no policy regarding cell phones, and made up one on the spot: aides should only use cell phones in an emergency. He offered no intervention, advice or alternatives regarding Sha’Ron. The next day we went grocery shopping. When I couldn’t reach something from my wheelchair, Sha’Ron was nowhere in sight. I finally found her outside on her cell phone and told her sharply that she simply had to stop using it.

The next day, Friday, she went to Interim, resigned from my case and told them I was rude. What should have happened at this point was Interim management should have asked me for my side of the story, then counseled Sha’Ron and assigned a new aide to my case. What did happen was Interim notified Long Term Care that they no longer would service my case. Neither Interim nor Long Term Care notified me that I no longer had aide service. I only found out on Monday morning when I started making phone calls to find out why my aide hadn’t shown up.

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 “I Don’t Know; I Really Don’t.” (Part II)

  1. Ann Kelly says:

    Re: Mental Health Dept. (Onondaga County) Do they need to pass any kind of a test for their positions… ???

    • annecwoodlen says:

      That would depend on which “they” you are referring to. The clerical staff would certainly have to have taken a Civil Service test. I don’t know about higher level positions, such as psychologist.

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