Wednesday, July 25, 2007

On Discrimination

I’m subscribed to a list serve around invisible disabilities through Google. It’s one of those where people communicate back and forth around issues they may have going on in their lives. For the most part, it’s impressive how these folks support and help each other with real life problems they face. I don’t contribute much because I often feel like a bit of an outsider.

However; I couldn’t keep my trap shut this morning when I read an exchange around discrimination. Actually, it began yesterday when someone new to the group wrote about her frustration with what she feels has been neglect regarding her brain injury diagnosis. She ended her message asking the group if they believe they suffer from discrimination.

What got me going was a reply sent from one of the other participants. He wrote that he feels discrimination frequently from people in his community. He wrote that people look at him and think he’s “a retard” although he claims to have an IQ of 135. When I read that sentence I could feel the hair on the back of my neck rise. I knew immediately that it was an appropriate time for me to weigh in on things.

I wrote to him; “I believe that in order to rid society of discrimination toward folks with disabilities, we have to start in our own back yard. People with cognitive disabilities ("retards" as you say) are no less viable people than folks with IQs of 135. Until ALL people with disabilities treat EACH OTHER as equals in their communities, there's not much reason to hope that the rest of the population will stop discriminating.”

I don’t know how this guy is going to receive what I wrote, but I felt that it had to be done. What he wrote demonstrates to me that we have a long way to go in realizing we’re all in this thing called life together, and quoting the Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior; “Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality”.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

The Price of Justice

I had my bi-yearly checkup with my Dr. yesterday. She is aware of the struggle I’ve been in, attempting to see that accountability for the death of my friend is brought to light. She also knows that this struggle has taken its’ toll on me, both physically and emotionally.

She listened attentively to an update of where things are at in my efforts to have an investigation done which would expose the medical neglect Tracey was subjected to prior to dying. Then came the question... “Have you seen “Sicko”?” I realize it’s probably hard for this woman of conscience to hear about my efforts knowing there’s nothing she can do to help, and she may have wanted to change the subject.

We discussed the movie for a minute or 2, agreeing that the medical system in America is broken. Then she looked at me with genuine sorrow in her eyes and said; “You know... you’re not going to win this thing”. I answered; “I can’t let it go. I believe a dangerous precedent has been set that it’s ok in Oregon to allow profoundly disabled people to die without thoroughly weighing treatment options against medical records, second opinions, and best practice. It’s not just about Tracey”.

We then had a talk about the stress involved in this situation, and the effects it’s had on me physically. She told me that it would be to my personal benefit to just let it go, saying; “This isn’t the first time you’ve seen this sort of thing, and it won’t be the last”. I’m certain she’s right on both counts, but I told her; “I think that I’m SUPPOSED to speak out when I see injustice. I think that’s why God put me here”.

She just kinda shook her head a bit and upped the dosage of my Hypertension med.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Can they Even DO THIS in Oregon??

Have you ever gone to a job interview where everything seemed to go perfectly... the people you meet with seem to genuinely appreciate your skill set, the job pays well, you’ll be doing exactly the kind of work you’re interested in, with a combination of autonomy, teamwork, and intrinsic reward you’re after? Then the bomb drops. They hand you an application at the end of the interview, asking you to fax it back to them after it’s completed.

You get home, look the ap. over, and see this at the end of it:
[Employer] is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, national origin, age, sexual orientation, political affiliation, marital status, disability or veteran status.

Interviews are given on a competitive basis, using job-related factors, after a written application has been received and reviewed. Because of the large number of applications received, not everyone who applies for a vacant position will be interviewed.

I certify that I have answered truthfully and have not knowingly withheld any information relative to my application. I understand that any misrepresentation or material omission of this application will result in my being eliminated from further consideration. I understand that, if accepted for employment, any misrepresentation or material omission which becomes known to [Employer], will result in immediate termination of my employment.

I authorize all previous employers and supervisors, including all persons with and for whom I have worked, to give [Employer] representatives any and all information regarding me and my previous employment. I release [Employer], and all previous employers and supervisors from liability for any damages that may result from furnishing information to [Employer].

In submitting this application for employment, I also authorize investigation of all matters which [Employer] deems relevant to my qualification for employment, including specifically a criminal history check, and I release from all liability any persons or employers supplying such information, and I also release [Employer] from all liability which might result from making the investigation.

I understand that, if selected, I will be required to provide proof of my identity and my legal right to work in the United States prior to actual employment with [Employer].

I understand that [Employer] is a Drug Free Workplace and that my employment is subject to the satisfactory results of a mandatory chemical screen test. I agree to conform to all rules and regulations of [Employer] as they presently exist or are later modified.

In consideration of my employment, I agree to conform to the instructions, rules and policies of [Employer]. My employment and compensation can be terminated at any time, with or without cause and with or without notice, at the option of either the company or myself. I agree that any disputes arising from my employment or termination of my employment will be resolved under the open door procedure that is in effect in the employer's handbook/policy manual. I understand that no representative of the company has any authority to enter into any agreement for employment for any specified period of time, or to make any agreement contrary to the foregoing.

Signature: Date:

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want the government reading my email, don’t want the mark of the beast tattooed on my forehead, and don’t want to sign away my rights.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The HIPPA in the Living Room

Found this interesting piece on the internet yesterday. It’s great food for thought and dispels much of the faulty information floating around regarding what HIPPA is SUPPOSED to be about. There are those in our state who use it as a means for avoiding accountability...

An article in the New York Times explains that because the HIPAA laws are so technical, they are being misunderstood and misinterpreted.

The article tells the story of Gerard Nussbaum was told he could not stay with his father-in-law while he was being treated after a stroke. He was then threatened with arrest while looking through his father-in-law’s chart to prove to the nurse she was about to administer a dangerous second round of sedatives. Both nurses claimed that access to his father-in-law and his father-in-law’s records were prohibited under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, more commonly known as HIPAA.

Many providers do not understand the law, have not trained their staff members to apply it judiciously and many are afraid of the fines and jail terms threatened by the Act, although no penalty has been levied in four years. Susan McAndrew, deputy director of health information privacy at the Department of Health and Human Service believes healthcare providers are hiding behind the HIPAA law. She states “Either innocently or purposefully, entities often use this as an excuse…They say ‘HIPAA made me do it’ when, in fact, they chose for other reasons not to make the permitted disclosures.”

Many experts distinguish between “good faith nondisclosures,” such as when a random person calls in for information about a patient and they cannot verify they should disclose the information and “bad faith nondisclosures,” like using HIPAA as an excuse to refuse to gather needed records to help public investigators with a child abuse case. Ms. McAndrew explains some of the do’s and don’ts of sharing medical information:

"Medical professionals can talk freely to family and friends, unless the patient objects. No signed authorization is necessary and the person receiving the information need not have the legal standing of a health care proxy or power of attorney. As for public health authorities or those investigating crimes like child abuse, HIPAA defers to state laws, which often require such disclosure. Medical workers may not reveal confidential information about a patient or case to reporters, but they can discuss general health issues."

Most on the spot decisions are made by staff who are more comfortable saying “no” than “yes” when they are not sure of the law.

So, if you need information about a friend or family member, unless that person objects, you have every right to that information. Don’t let the staff hide behind the HIPAA law and prevent you from helping a loved one manage their care.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


6 young black men in Louisiana face over 100 years of combined prison time for their participation in a fight at school? Can you spell r-a-c-i-s-m??

I saw this story on Democracy Now! this morning, and had a hard time believing what I was seeing and hearing. You really have to check out the whole sordid story for yourself. There’s just too much information for me to write on this blog.

One of the very interesting aspects to the story is what the District Attorney did to keep one of the student’s parents from speaking out about this travesty. He simply put the parents on his witness list in order to silence them during their son’s trial.

This lawyer never actually called them up to the witness stand for questioning, but was well aware that by having them on the list they wouldn’t be allowed to talk about the trial. Slick, huh?

Where the hell has justice gone? Legal procedure trumps justice and fairness at every turn in this country these days. It’s no longer about right and wrong, our justice system is now about meeting minimal legal requirements. It’s not about guilt or innocence any more, it’s about being good at maneuvering and manipulating the system to avoid accountability. How and when did we get here?

I believe we need to re access what we want this country to look like It’s time to stop sitting back idly while injustice runs free in our cities, states, and nation. “We the people” must no longer allow the shameless, psychologically damaged, charlatans, who currently call the shots in this country, to continue doing so.