Letters: September 2013

No More Nice Girl
The July 2013 cautionary tale regarding health care/hospitals [“Equal Health Care: If Not Now, When?”] rocked my bones. Where else can you feel safe but in the hospital? Yeah, right. Why not find out about SCI, PPS, etc. and how to treat it if you have a medical degree? Why install an accessible bathroom and not take a few minutes to show staff how things work? The list is too long to elaborate. That’s all I’m able to comment on; the rest of your story makes me too angry.

But I’m so happy you’re pissed off enough to shame some of these health care “professionals.” That’s the only way things can work for us nowadays, if we growl. I’m 66 and done being nice. I used to dread the she-has-a-chip-on-her-shoulder comments, but no more. Who cares what they think? I now attempt to make the ADA work for me.

I used to be afraid of my wrath; now, I’m afraid of not having enough to possibly save my own life sometime.
Brenda Serotte
Davie, Florida

Broken System
Thank you so much for the well-written and most timely article [“Equal Health Care: If Not Now, When?” July 2013]. You give us hope and inspiration for making progress on this hugely important and underreported issue. People are hesitant to criticize health care providers. Many of the individuals are true angels on earth, but the system is badly broken, causing life-threatening problems for countless people with disabilities who are lost in our system.
Beverly and Bryan Gingg
San Luis Obispo, California

Non-access? Investigate
I am a retired physician with a rare neurologic disorder, hereditary spastic paraplegia, which functionally is equivalent to a T8 cord lesion. My paraplegia, progressive over the past 20 years, prevents me from standing or walking, and I use an electric scooter full-time for mobility. However, by special and careful planning I was able to carry on my medical practice, travel around the country serving as an expert witness in court, and take vacations.

Your specific comments about health care facilities [“Equal Health Care: If Not Now, When?”] are most pertinent and correct, since few health care providers are able to handle disabled people. I was hospitalized last year for several severe and acute medical problems, and discovered to my horror and dismay that there were no accessible facilities whatsoever, not even for the general public. The bathroom in my hospital room could not be accessed or used, and I spent four days entirely in bed. There were several severe complications resulting from my inability to use the bathroom. In fact I subsequently reported that hospital to the Joint Commission on Accreditation, and they undertook a thorough investigation.
Malin Dollinger, M.D.
Rancho Palos Verdes, California

Scale? What Scale?
Thank you for speaking your mind [Bully Pulpit, July 2013.] I, too, echo your sentiments about the complete lack of ADA compliance when it comes to providing proper medical treatment to members of the disabled community.

I have been a C5-6 quadriplegic since the age of 16. As a result of my 1984 injury, I lack hand movement and cannot walk. I am now 46. I have experienced life pre-ADA and post ADA. When it comes to medical care for the disabled community, nothing dramatic has occurred in making substantial progress towards receiving total equality of care with members of the nondisabled community. Over the past 30 years of being disabled I have never seen a doctor’s office that has ever had an accessible exam table, or a scale that can weigh a person in a wheelchair. These deficits apply equally to the ERs and hospitals I’ve been in as well.

The last time I was actually weighed, in 2010, was at a rehab center that had a wheelchair scale. Since then, I have no clue as to what my actual weight may be. I have seen many doctors, and have been in the ER/hospital three more times since 2010. With each visit, I was asked what my height and weight is. Since reading the July edition of NEW MOBILITY, I have now vowed to no longer supply this guesstimation. Instead, I am going to reply, “Where is the wheelchair accessible scale located?”

Since the passage of the ADA back in 1990, most hospitals and ERs are clueless on how to handle a person in a wheelchair. The staff is generally under-trained on how to lift and turn a mobility-impaired patient [and] … my patience and civility have limits. Now, if I am admitted to a hospital, I immediately request to speak with the nursing supervisor and go over what needs to be done regarding my care. I would like to leave the facility in better shape, not worse.
Brian J. Schmidt, Esq.
Glendale, Arizona

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